Amid efforts to get the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) take off effectively, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has urged the continent’s leaders to create vehicles that would not only make it possible for manufacturing, but also for trade in goods and services manufactured across the region.
The call, according to the bank, has become exigent, as manufacturers would need independent entities to handle the export and trading of their products, given that they were not equipped for those roles.
President of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, while receiving the 2019 African Renaissance and Diaspora Network Private Sector Development Award, said the support for export trading companies would be a strategic approach in tackling the challenge, adding that the creation of AfCFTA is also addressing the issue.
Speaking during a high-level event on the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa 2016-2019, organised at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, in United States, Oramah decried how lack of synergy has deprived the continent of possible development goals.
According to him, previous efforts by African countries to use manufacturing and industrialisation as engines for development and growth had failed, largely as a result of lack of access to market, lack of capital and skills and inadequate infrastructure.
He said many large-scale investors had little interest in investing in a massive way in Africa because of the fragmented nature of its market, suggesting that focus should be more on labour-intensive manufacturing, which had more net effect on the population than on capital-intensive industries.
Oramah added that Afreximbank had already launched an equity investment fund, the Fund for Export Development in Africa, which would help attract foreign direct investment to support industrialisation and manufacturing in Africa.
He also stressed the need for Africa to focus on skills development, in particular, by going back to building technical schools and supporting universities of technology to equip people with the right skills for the kind of jobs that were beginning to emerge.
The President of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, also said that Africa was central to the world, and always open for business, inviting people around the world to come and trade with the continent.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of African Renaissance and Diaspora Network (ARDN), Constance Newman, said Oramah was selected as the 2019 recipient in recognition of his exemplary leadership in the fields of trade, trade finance and economics, and as a scholar and prolific writer.
“As the leader of Afreximbank, you have not only overseen the strengthening of trade activities throughout Africa, you have also played pivotal roles in the application of the Bank’s expertise to support humanitarian emergency relief programmes.”