African leaders have been urged to boost trade and learn to share knowledge and infrastructure in order to develop the continent to a desired standard.
Discussing how African countries can partner with other countries around the world and the private sector to create jobs, discussants stressed the need for African countries to explore all sectors in order to open their economy more and create needed jobs for the youth.
At Thursday’s session on “Partnering for Prosperity” US Trade Representative, Michael Froman, stressed the need for African countries to explore the agriculture sector, which he said was capable of opening the economy of many African countries, since Africa has at least 20 per cent of the world’s land.
He also stressed the need to implement the World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreement reached in December on trade facilitation, which is aimed at reducing bills at the border and harmonising customs, making it easier for countries to trade with each other.
He also emphasised the need for security in the continent.
Lack Of Political Will
The Deputy, Director-General, WTO, Geneva, Yonov Fredrick Agah, stressed the need for African governments to take advantage of free trade rules and enhance trades within and outside Africa.
He suggested that profits made from trades could be channelled to other sectors of the economy in order to develop other sectors.
“Trade rules are not bad. It enables you to work for your own economy and for the economy of the trading partner.
“Trade is part of the solution to Africa’s development. A trade led growth strategy is compatible with other strategies that would grow the economy. From trade, you direct resources into manufacturing to create more jobs and reduce poverty level.
“With the increasing importance of free trade agreements, Africa should begin to think of how it will take advantage of the free trade in order to reduce the number of the unemployed in the continent,” Mr Agha said.
He also insisted that lack of political will on the part of the leaders was affecting growth.
Conducive Investment Environment
For Mr Jabu Mabuza, chairman, Telkom Groups, South Africa, educating Africans would go a long way in bringing the needed development in the continent.
He also stressed the need for Local domestic investments to be encouraged in order for foreign investments to come in.
“We need to recognise that we are at various stages and we need to sort out our own regional issues first,” he said.
Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, told the discussants that the challenge Africa had at the moment was not the political will to move the continent forward, stating that African leaders were doing all they could to ensure that the investment environment was conducive for investors.
He said that Nigeria was open for investment, with adequate consideration given to the private sector’s interest in order to ensure that the purpose of opening the economy, which is to create jobs, would be achieved.
“There is the political will in Africa now for us to properly integrate. And that is why a committee has been established in the African Union level to look at how Africa can facilitate intra-Africa trade, having discovered that it is easier for countries in Africa to trade within the continent,” he said.
President Jonathan also stressed the need for African countries to also consider growing the manufacturing sector.
The discussants also pointed out that African governments should reduce bureaucratic process, which President Jonathan said “an abuse of the process was a challenge that should be tackled”.
The discussion was the last for the Thursday’s session of the WEFA that started on Wednesday.
The forum with participants from over 80 countries will end on Friday.