Africa urged to increase trade among member countries

By Josephine Mugiyo

AS the continent continues to celebrate African liberation month, attention has been drawn to increasing intra Africa trade, which is currently below 20 percent compared to 60 percent in other continents.

With focus on fostering unity among African countries, calls have been made for the harmony to translate into increased trade between member states.

While efforts are being made to boost intra-Africa trade through initiatives such as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, calls are growing louder for more to be done as alluded to by ZIMTRADE Chief Executive Officer, Mr Allan Majuru.

“African unity can only be strengthened through one of the key pillars which is trade .There are strong bonds that keep us together as Africa. If you see how our leaders have now put in place the Continent Free Trade Area and looking at Zimbabwe and how we have been doing. As Zimbabwe while we export to other continents we are working to foster intra-Africa trade. As Africa we need to move up the chain, we are exporting raw materials so that means we are exporting jobs,” he said.

Chairperson of the Pan African Agenda Trust, Advocate Tariro Machiridza said it is disappointing that African countries are trading more with former colonial powers.

“Africa trades more with its former colonial powers, but the vision of the OAU was to create a one market Africa. AU has come up with the free trade area which tries to cement the founding vision of the fathers of the Pan African agenda. Africa should look inside, solutions to Africa’s problems are within Africa. That’s why Africa has to travel among itself. When you compare with other continents intra-trade is 69 % in Asia and Europe 78 % but in Africa it’s a paltry 12%. That is why Africa, contributing more that 17 % of the global population, contributes a mere 3% to global trade. This is a travesty, this should be fixed,” she noted.

Engaging the African diaspora, which is scattered across the World, has also been cited as key in unlocking investments that will see an increase in intra-Africa trade.

Calls have also been made for African leaders to address the issue of connectivity among African countries to improve the movement of goods.