African Governments must strengthen their collaboration with their private sectors to develop their human and natural resources towards delivering prosperity to their people.
Participants at the 2023 annual meetings of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) emphasised this at the end of the sessions, in Accra, on Tuesday.
The three-day event was on the theme: “Delivering the vision, building prosperity for Africans”. It marked the first time that the Caribbean States joined the meetings – a sign of deepening collaborations.
Some participants who spoke with the Ghana News Agency said it was imperative for Africa to deepen collaboration among state and non-state actors to add value to the continent’s abundant resources and increase regional trade and integration.
Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, a former Minister for Trade and Industry of Ghana said: “Among other things, we must collectively promote a high level of export growth through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“We must also accelerate the empowerment of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to export more through intentional policies that will serve as vehicles of growth for SMEs across the continent.”
He called for deliberate efforts to nurture the mentality of citizens on the continent to patronise made-in-Africa products while providing incentives for businesses to thrive and scale up.
It was also important to attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs).
The former Minister also encouraged governments in Africa to speed up efforts to remove all barriers that affected the movement of goods and people.
They must also ensure that the value-added products conformed to international standards.
“It’s a matter of reversing our heavy dependence on imported goods and focusing on export and all the intervening activities to address the bottlenecks of non-tariff barriers to trade,” Mr Spio-Garbrah said.
Dotun Ajayi, Executive Director (West Africa), African Business Roundtable, said: “It’s a shared responsibility at the firm, industry, country and sub-regional level, which must be centred on partnerships.”
He said it had become more important for Africa to produce more by removing the impediments to production – capital and access to finance and developing the technological capacities of businesses and people.
Mr Ajayi, who is also a Special Representative to the United Nations (UN) also said: “In terms of market, AfCFTA promises to remove barriers and create the singular largest trade block and this will help achieve the prosperity we yearn for.”
Hauwa Yahaya Abubakar, the Head of External Relations and Protocol at the Presidency, Nigeria said: “When we look at addressing the challenges of Africa as a collective responsibility, then each country can come up with solutions that will positively affect everybody.”
She said that the continent needed policies that would ensure that no regional block was left out in the growth and development agenda through capacity building of people and businesses.
Funding of SMEs, while creating an enabling a conducive environment for large companies to grow sustainably was also paramount.
“Things are changing on the continent and if we keep up with the pace, zeal and commitment, we’ll get to the promised land very soon,” Ms Abubakar said.
She expressed confidence in the African prosperity agenda.
The 2023 Afreximbank annual meetings, which were opened by President Akufo-Addo, featured plenary sessions, and high-level meetings with governors, finance ministers, and experts from all economic sectors.
Many sessions of the event the highlighted need for boosting intra-African trade and integration in the face of the challenges resulting from the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the adverse economic challenges from the Ukraine crisis and other global conflicts.
The resilience of the continent and its capability to come out of challenging times was also highlighted to serve as a motivation for governments, private sector players as well as youth and women to contribute to making Africa prosperous.
The African Export-Import Bank is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade.
At the end of 2022, Afreximbank’s total assets and guarantees stood at over US$31 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to US$5.2 billion.
The Bank disbursed more than US$86 billion between 2016 and 2022.