Countries across Africa have been urged to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) protocols to boost their economies and improve food security in the sub-Saharan region.

This call comes in light of the revelation that Africa currently has the lowest inter-regional trade globally, representing only about 13% of the continent’s total trade, compared to Asia’s 60%.

food security

The recommendation was part of the resolutions from the Africa Economic Summit 2024, themed “Africa: Riding the Crest of Global Economic and Political Volatility.” A communiqué signed by Dr. Sam Ohuabunwa, President of the Africa Economic Summit 2024, and Dr. Brian Reuben, CEO of the Africa Economic Summit Group, was released to journalists on Thursday in Abakaliki. It emphasized the urgent need for African countries to adopt a global perspective and gather sufficient resources to compete effectively with major economies such as the United States, China, and India.

The communiqué highlighted that “Africa currently has the lowest interregional trade in the world, representing only about 13% of Africa’s global trade, compared to Asia’s 60%.”

The summit resolved that African nations must swiftly adopt the AfCFTA protocols and remove all barriers to the agreement’s full implementation. It also called on the African Union to set a target of at least 30% intra-African trade by 2030.

To pursue this goal vigorously, the summit urged the AU and AfCFTA to adopt the slogan: One Africa! One Family!! One Economy!!! This slogan should serve as a motivational call for all Africans to think globally and act collectively.

The communiqué stated, “It is our best chance of aggregating sufficient resources and energy to compete with other continents, which include large countries like the USA, China, and India. Small and fragmented African countries cannot compete on their own.”

In addition to pooling resources (human and material), the next critical factor for Africa to leapfrog and achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is aggressive investment in digital transformation to drive economic, political, and social development. Internet penetration and applications present Africa’s best opportunity to mobilize the energy of its active youth population and drive employment and creativity.

“Investing in digital technology infrastructure impacts education, healthcare, agriculture, financial inclusion, and security in Africa. African governments can use a fraction of the funds spent on international travel and political privileges to further this digital revolution, which is already taking root in some African countries, mostly through private sector initiatives,” the communiqué added.

The summit criticized the embarrassing situation of food scarcity and rampant food inflation in Africa, determining that the continent must set a date to stop importing food. Beyond enhancing food security, African nations need to adopt new schemes to address the current agricultural challenges.

The communiqué also called for exploring innovative funding, mobilizing domestic and foreign investments for critical projects, minimizing borrowing, prioritizing projects, using internally generated resources, transitioning from aid to trade, and providing incentives for diaspora bonds and investments. It emphasized the importance of promoting gender equity and inclusiveness in African political leadership, focusing on younger generations and ethical leadership development. Additionally, it urged the creation of a conducive business environment by simplifying regulations, minimizing bureaucracy, and promoting entrepreneurship.

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Theresa Anyanwu

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