As the world gradually recovers from the economic impact of the novel Coronavirus outbreak, African countries are being urged to make the most of the opportunities presented by the pandemic to diversify and industrialize, and reduce over-reliance on imports.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, GIPC, Yofi Grant, a turnaround from import dependence is essential for the continent to take full advantage of opportunities presented by the pandemic.
Commodity exports on average, accounted for 80% of total merchandise exports from Africa.
Mr. Yofi Grant, who was speaking on the Citi Business Festival Virtual Forum on the topic; ‘Understanding the AfCFTA and the opportunities for your business’, said that, “When you look at Africa, trade is such that we import a lot more than we export. We import finished goods and we export raw materials. I think that needs to be reverted. We should export processed goods and import the raw materials we need to process those goods such that we will be operating at the high end of the value chain.”
He also stated the time is ripe for businesses to look ‘inwards’ and re-strategize as the crisis provides an opportunity for them to take more concrete steps towards realizing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
“This is an indication of what I believe the future is because we now recognize that perhaps we should also look inwards. As we can’t print money, and government’s resources are shrinking and our economies are also shrinking, we need to look inwards and see how we can curtail some of this from our own resources,” he said.
“If you look through history, there have been pandemics especially the Spanish Flu which killed about fifty million people. But in all those cycles, the world changed to adapt. But for Africa, I think this still remains a unique opportunity to re-caliberate because prior to this if you look at the ten fastest growing economies, six were from Africa,” he added.
The AfCFTA provides an opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area, with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people, in a $2.5 trillion dollar economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.
The 2020 edition of the Citi Business Festival has a line-up of radio and TV discussions. It has featured virtual business fora that aired live on Citi TV.