Africa challenged to promote intra-regional trade

By Sifiso Sibanda

The need to integrate African economies and promote intra-regional trade has been identified as key to the economic growth and development of the continent, given the abundant natural resources.

The Connect Africa Symposium, which was part of activities lined up on the 3rd day of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) in Bulawayo this Thursday brought together local as well as regional political and economic players to look at possible solutions to the socio-economic challenges facing the African content.

It was in that spirit that Vice President General Retired Dr Constantino Chiwenga called for a convergence of ideas to build robust economies anchored on the vast mineral, oil, gas, fertile soils and huge water bodies in Africa.

“I wish to state with no apology that Africa remains a very rich continent, with unlimited potential yet to be explored and harnessed for the benefit of all its people. This is despite the economic, political and social challenges that have been highlighted and often overemphasized about our continent,” he said.

The Vice president further highlighted the available economic opportunities for continental development including the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area that is expected to accelerate Intra-Africa trade.

On Innovation, the Vice President noted how the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the need for Africans to invest in research and production of vaccines.

“The key lessons from COVID-19 experience for Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa, I believe are that firstly, not much can be achieved in isolation Continents prioritised the safety and welfare of their people and we were left to realise as Africans that that we are on our own and there is there an inherent need for us to work together towards common goals based on Ubuntu,” he added.

The emphasis of the Symposium, running under the theme: ‘Re-Imagining the Future: A united, A Prosperous Africa’ was on uniting Africa for prosperity.’