According to the DHL Global Connectedness Index, Africa is the world’s least connected continent, when considering the ease of moving people, trade, information and finance. All African countries need to focus on developing connectedness on the continent and building a good trade relationship.
During the ongoing 2017 Africa Export-Import Bank Annual General Meeting, (AfreximAGM) taking place in Kigali, Rwanda, the President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank, Benedict Oramah and Claver Gatete, Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, Republic of Rwanda also spoke about Intra-African trade which is also part of the discussion for this year’s Annual General Meeting. Africa contributes about 15 percent to intra-African trade, which is very low when compared with other continents such as Asia and Europe with 50 percent and 70 percent respectively.
Benedict Oramah highlighted what Afrexim is doing to boost intra-African trade. He revealed that Afrexim is trying to deal with the biggest constraint with intra-African trade, which is the knowledge of the market in other countries. The bank is also working on developing standards and certification programs. He also explained that Afrexim Intra-African trade is not just trade between African countries but also between Africans and Africans in the Diaspora.
“We regard Africans in the Diaspora as the 55th African country,” said Benedict Oramah.
So far, Rwanda is making headways in ensuring that it boosts intra-African trade in the East African Region and the entire continent. The country has taken a number of laudable steps to ensure that this is achieved.
According to Claver Gatete, Minister for Finance and Economic Planning, the Republic of Rwanda is trying to remove the barriers in movement such as allowing people within the region to travel to other parts of East Africa with just an ID card. The country has also made the visa application process very easy. People from other African countries can apply for a visa on arrival with ease. However those who are not Africans can apply online. Furthermore, the country is contributing to intra-African movement by establishing RwandAir.
Africa needs to borrow a leaf from Asia and Europe in boosting their intra-African trade. From available data, EU Member States trade goods more with the other Member States than with countries outside the EU.
If Africa does not take the issue of intra-African trade seriously, the continent will likely be faced with a disastrous future where it will be the only continent still experiencing substantial population growth by 2050. Africa has to start creating real prosperity and growth for the future.