Ali Basha, the Minister Plenipotentiary Head of Africa Department at Egyptian Commercial Service (ECS), said intra-African trade is very low, accounting for only 16-17% of the continent’s foreign trade volume. But, what is to be done? Basha emphasized the need for increased efforts among African countries to boost intra-trade and integration amid political crises.
He made these remarks during the session on “Afreximbank Initiatives to Drive Intra-African Trade” at the Intra-African Trade Fair 2023 (#IATF2023). Basha said the IATF is a vital platform for the countries of the continent to explore the opportunities available in the continental markets, which would enhance the prospects of development and integration.
He emphasized the obstacles to continental integration, including infrastructure, information, and market linkages, and urged African governments to finalize the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Jean-Louis Ekra, former President of African Export-Import Bank, outlines a strategy to develop intra-African trade amid regional challenges like COVID-19, Russian-Ukrainian conflict, and geopolitical crises.
Ekra believes the AfCFTA can significantly improve African countries’ development, particularly in trade and raw material exports, overcoming challenges and coping with climate change.
He pointed out that Afreximbank is pursuing integration with African countries through the AfCFTA, a sustainable development strategy adopted by the African Union. What is more, the Bank supports intra-African investments, training platforms, and fosters relations to increase exports, open markets, and complete development paths.
Africa has abundant energy and mineral resources, but it needs to develop its local manufacturing and industrialisation capacities to maximise their benefits. This was the main theme of the session on “African Energy Transition and African Industrialisation” at the Africa Investment Forum 2023.
Helen Brume, Afreximbank’s Director of Project and Asset Based Finance, highlighted Africa’s 8% oil, 7% natural gas, 70% minerals exports, and 28% GDP potential, emphasizing value creation.
She said Afreximbank is implementing programmes to finance and develop local manufacturing projects in Africa, potentially saving $500 million annually and reducing foreign exchange drain, thereby alleviating poverty. She emphasized that this would significantly alleviate poverty, particularly for the continent’s young population, which typically ages 28 years or younger.
Oando Plc’s Executive Director, Ainojie Irune, stated that Africa has signed numerous agreements for the green energy transition and continent’s development. He added that Africa, with 39% of the world’s largest resources, faces food insecurity and underdevelopment due to not fully utilizing its potential.
Omar Farouk Ibrahim, Secretary General of African Petroleum Producers Association (APPO), African Petroleum Producers Association Secretary General Omar Farouk Ibrahim emphasizes the need for Africa to develop technologies to mitigate climate challenges and environmental risks, while utilizing its vast petroleum gas resources.