The Economic Development in Africa Report 2015, a flagship document of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was yesterday launched in Accra.
The annual report creates the platform for discussions centered on issues of international trade and development.
This year’s report was titled, “Unlocking the potential of Africa’s Services Trade for Growth and Development”.
Presenting the report, Dr. Yao Graham, Co-ordinator of the Third World Network-Africa, said the services trade, remained a major driver of growth in Africa, but had failed to promote structural transformation of the continent because the sector was sub-optimal and delivered at high cost.
The report said, the services trade propelled more than 50 percent of the continent’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in 30 out of 55 countries between 2009-2012, and accounted for 32.4 per cent of the total employment within the same period.
The continent, the report said was a marginal player in global services trade, stating that, “Africa is a marginal player in global services trade, accounting for 2.2 per cent of global services export and 4 per cent of services imports”.
The continent, the report stated, had remained a consistent net services importer since 2005. Therefore, to avert the trend, the report advocated a change in infrastructure services, effective regulation, and intra-regional trade among the continent.
Dr. Graham commenting on some aspects of the report, said, the significance of the report lay in the fact that, it served as a blueprint to champion trade and development issues in Africa.
For the continent to optimise the growth of the service sector, he argued that, the continent needed a change in polices to drive the continent’s economic fortunes, saying, “we need policies in relation to the various services subsectors”.
He said, there was the need for the service sector to be managed by locals, with a concerted effort to increase opportunities for employment and the earning of decent incomes.
By Felix Akaho Jnr