By Emmanuel Nduka
Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has called on African leaders to reverse “absurdities” in African trade patterns to make way for seamless and positive intra-trading.
Oramah who made the call at the 2021 Intra-African Trade Fair in Durban, South Africa, said African countries must now begin to build trust amongst each other, open investment opportunities, and foster the emergence of regional value chains.
“It is the Trade Fair that can help us to begin to reverse some of the absurdities we see today in Africa’s trade patterns whereby many African countries import from outside Africa at a much higher cost the same products a neighbouring African country exports to the world at a lower price,” he noted.
He added that, “reversing these anomalies would require a deliberate effort to connect African buyers and sellers, deepen knowledge of Africans about their continent by facilitating least cost access to trade and investment information. Your Excellencies, this is what this event offers to Africa and its partners. We are fulfilling a key deliverable under the African Union’s Boosting Intra-Africa-Trade (BIAT) strategy”.
He recalled that the first Intra-Africa Trade fair held in December 2018, attracted 1,100 exhibitors and about 7,000 participants from 45 countries and facilitated the signature of deals worth about 32 billion US dollars.
“I am pleased to inform you that about 25 billion US dollars of the deals have been implemented, with another 2.5 billion being processed, representing an incredible success rate of 83 percent. Your Excellencies, beyond the numbers, the impact on real people has been humbling,” he revealed.
He charged that Africa must prove the naysayers wrong, using the Trade Fair as the starting point, adding that trade agreements have worked in more mature markets because they have institutional mechanisms that support their implementation.
Prof. Oramah further revealed that Afreximbank is working with the AfCFTA Secretariat to create an $8billion “AfCFTA Adjustment Facility that will cushion African countries from fiscal revenue losses from the tariff removals associated with the AfCFTA and to help the private sector to retool their operations as they reorient their operations towards the continental market”.
The Intra-African Trade Fair is a collaborative effort of Afreximbank, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the AfCFTA Secretariat, along with other key partners, including the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).