Africa: President Akufo-Addo Urges African Countries to Trade Among Themselves

President Akufo-Addo speaking at the 22nd Academy of African Business and Development Conference at the University of Professional Studies, Ghana.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged African countries to engage more closely, through trade investments, political cooperation and enhance regional initiatives in peace and security to develop.

President Akufo-Addo said the current derangement in the global commodities market, supply chains and logistics as a result of COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were good reasons for Africa to “rise and stand on her own feet.”

He said the continent had not done much as it should in liberalizing and promoting trade amongst member countries.

Speaking at the 22nd Academy of African Business and Development Conference at the University of Professional Studies, Ghana (UPSA) on Wednesday, President Akufo-Addo said African countries needed to build on their capabilities and collaborate among themselves to wield greater negotiating power to develop

He said Africa was the best-endowed continent in the world but tragically the masses of her people were the poorest on the planet.

Speaking on the theme of the conference “Sustainable Development Beyond Aid: The Focus of Africa”, President Akufo-Addo said Africa’s economic and foreign policies had been substantially defined by aid, with most national budgets heavily dependent on it which had not engendered the desired outcomes.

“We are not disclaiming aid, but we do want to discard a mindset of dependency,” President Akufo-Addo stated.

He added that Africa must enhance its efforts at self-sustenance and move to a situation beyond aid.

Research, he said, has shown that countries with the largest share of World Trade, were located within regions with the highest share of intra-regional trade.

Trade between African nations, according to President Akufo-Addo, remained low compared to other parts of the World.

The consequences of COVID-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to President Akufo-Addo, were being felt the world over–Fuel, food and logistics prices and global supply chains currently bearing the blunt.

President Akufo-Addo, however, said the economic shocks that Africa was experiencing as a result of these developments would have been felt less if Africa had focused and shifted from dependence on aid to production productivity, intra-continental, trade and exports.

In 2000, the millennium year inter-regional trade accounted for 10 per cent of Africa’s total trade and increased to 16 per cent in 2015. Intra-regional trading in 2015 for example, amongst members of the European Union, amounted to 70%. It stood at 52 per cent amongst the nations of Asia and 50%, among the nations of North America.

He said Africa imports some US$4 billion of agricultural products from Russia. Ninety per cent of the exports are wheat, and 6% sunflower oil.

“What stops African countries like Ghana from producing and consuming its tropical oils, like palm oil and coconut oil and trading them with Morocco which produces wheat?” he questioned.

President Akufo-Addo said Ghana’s chicken imports in 2021 were estimated at 350,000 metric tons with a forecast for 2022 as 400,000 metric tons, 14 per cent more than the 2021 imports figure.

None of these imports, he bemoaned, were from African countries. “South Africa imports almost US$ 1 billion worth of wheat, rice, frozen meat products, and corn per year. None of which are from any African country.”

Those, President Akufo-Addo indicated, were the reasons why intra-African trade was so low as African countries contributed to the development of other nations, “anytime we import toothpicks rather than manufacturing them in our own countries.”

The crisis in Ukraine, according to the President had compromised the food security of Africa, not only by the disruption of commodity imports but also by the unavailability of fertilizer for our crops.

President Akufo-Addo said Africa must take advantage of the opportunity the African Continental Free Trade Agreement presented as it provided both, the impetus and catalyst for Africa’s needed sustainable development.

He said the time to pursue a path of prosperity and self-respect for African nations was now, adding that the concept of Africa Beyond Aid was about acknowledging that Africa needed to develop sustainably.

President Akufo-Addo commended the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), through the agency of OPSA for hosting the annual Academy of African Business and Development conference.

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