By Emmanuel Nduka
South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has avowed that colonialism deeply damaged the indigenous development of African trade and caused great harm to its societies.
Ramaphosa made this observation at the 2021 Intra-African Trade Fair held in Durban, South Africa, where African leaders gathered to chart a new way forward for the continent’s development.
“At first, Europeans traded in African lives, carrying millions of slaves across the Atlantic to produce the wealth of their new-found colonies.
“Then, with the realisation of Africa’s vast raw materials, colonial powers turned to the extraction of Africa’s minerals and agricultural products.
“Much of the economic storyline of colonialism persists to this day. Now Africa is taking concrete steps to write its own economic success story. It is opening up new fields of opportunity,” he posited.
Speaking on harnessing its capabilities, he said Africa can no longer have a situation where it exports raw materials and imports finished goods made with those materials.
“We can longer have a situation where the resources of Africa provide employment and add value in other economies, while so many of our people live in poverty and conditions of under-development.
“By promoting trade between African countries we are strengthening the continent’s industrial base and ensuring that we produce goods for ourselves and each other,” the President added.
President Ramaphosa expressed worry that the Covid-19 pandemic further sent a powerful message to the continent “about the dangers of over-reliance on external sources to meet its growing demand for food, medicines and other essential supplies”.
“It clearly demonstrated that Africa needs to produce its own food and medicines, to strengthen continental supply chains, and to invest in infrastructure and capacitate African institutions,” he noted.
The first Intra-African Trade Fair was held in Egypt in 2018.