‘Africa’s growing exports lack local focus’

Container_Ship-sirionglobalLemo, Obiozor harp on economic integration

The growing export business profile from various economies of Africa have not impacted well on its citizenry because it is lacking in-depth of intra-transactions, which would foster growth and development.

Besides, it is an indication of slow absorption of the acclaimed integration initiative, which is expected to ensure free flow of economic activities across boundaries and facilitate the realisation of the continent’ touted potential.

Meanwhile, renewed calls for the integration have come from the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Ecobank Nigeria, Jibril Aku; former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Tunde Lemo; and Ambassador George Obiozor, at the Hallmark Newspapers’ public policy forum, in Lagos.

According to Aku, Africa’s exports are driven by strong commodity prices and grew faster than any other region in the world in 2012 at 6.1 per cent.

Contrarily, in the same year that Africa accounted for just 3.5 per cent of world merchandise exports, the record has remained low over the years.

“Intra-African trade with value-added manufacturing grew faster than exports to the rest of the world. The share of African suppliers in the continent’s imports has been falling compared to imports from outside Africa. Imports have grown twice as fast as exports, averaging 13.8 per cent per year. African states have not participated fully in this import growth,” he said.

Speaking on the imperatives of integration, Ecobank chief noted that emerging new world of 21st century is one that relies on the concept of no limitations. Knowledge is ever improving, technology ever evolving and global relationships ever changing; in this kitchen soup of perpetual motion there is no telling what tomorrow may bring.

He cited a study that reads in part: “Africa is a continent that is blessed with vast natural, material and human resources that could have transformed to one of the largest regions in terms of sustainable growth and development.

“However, the situation in the continent has been contrary to the point that Africa has been labelled the least developed continent of the world, harbouring most of the poorest and under-developed countries.”

He added: “There is no doubt that the African continent in this century is in dire need of a development strategy that will anchor its constituent polities on the path of holistic industrial and material progress.

“African suppliers need an appropriate enabling trade environment, to scale-up involvement in services value chains. Regional bodies have launched important initiatives to boost regional industrialisation and investment in regional infrastructure but these needs to be strengthened through sustainable developments,” he said.

Nigeria’s former Ambassador, Prof. George Obiozor, noted that economic integration is about charity, which they say, begins at home.

According to him, it means that for African economies to integrate, each individual economy must be functional, efficient and effective, while the citizens as well, will be integrated into their respective domestic governance and enterprises.

“The beginning of the continent’s economic integration starts at the level of domestic economic liberalization, equity and competitiveness. Governance must rise to the best global practice and discard narrow ethnic and cultural biases, avoid discrimination, but enthrone the regime of generally preferred way of selecting leadership,” he said.
But Lemo asserted that the colonial mentality, which saw Africa as a source of raw material and not for development, is still dominating decisions and economic relationships at leadership level.

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