Prosper Ndlovu in GABORONE, Botswanaa
Chairman and Chairman of AFREXIMBANK, Prof. Benedict Oramah, said urgent steps must be taken to build adequate infrastructure that supports the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. .
As the continent moves towards an integrated free trade market under the landmark agreement, which came into force early last year and was ratified by Zimbabwe and several regional peers, the need to strengthening infrastructure development was highlighted as a key catalyst for trade. competitiveness.
Academic studies and experts agree that major infrastructure such as roads, aviation, rail, energy and information and communication technologies, among others, plays a vital role in improving the development and promotion of sustainable trade, as well as in reducing trade deficits.
Speaking at the Botswana Global Expo, which ends here today with around 30 Zimbabwean companies attending, Prof Oramah said lack of adequate infrastructure would be a major impediment to achieving the desired gains quickly. of the AfCFTA.
Pushing the boundaries of industrialization, he said, was essential for Africa’s transformation with a focus on harnessing trade and investment opportunities.
This also includes building adequate infrastructure capacity that supports the continent’s product quality standards and certification.
“In the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area, we need to invest more in building trade,” Professor Oramah said.
“The lack of infrastructure is the biggest constraint as well as the problem of access to information.”
Although home to key industrial raw materials, he said it was discouraging that Africa was still dependent on imports for most finished products, including fertilizers, and because of this the continent has been exposed to geopolitical complications such as the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Professor Oramah said it was ironic that Africa was inclined to trade more of its primary commodities mainly with foreign markets at a time when intra-African trade remained weak, hovering below 20% on average.
He said these patterns were a legacy of colonization, which molded African economies to serve Western interests, adding that this must be corrected through the AfCFTA.
“It is these barriers that we need to break down in order to improve our economic situation as a continent and AfreximBank is committed to supporting the growth of intra-African trade,” Professor Oramah said.
“In doing so, we seek to increase the intra-regional rate from around 16% to at least 25%.”