Mahama: Let’s encourage intra-African trade on continent

Former President John Dramani Mahama has stressed on the need for encouragement of intra-African trade and described Africa’s over-dependence on imported goods as ‘shameful’.

He stated that intra-African trade must be encouraged on the continent to boost trade and promote self-reliance to accelerate the continent’s progress, growth and development.

“We must push for self-reliance for key strategic commodities and supplies such as rice, tomatoes, onions, and vegetable oil for which we have comparative advantage and it is shameful Africa continues to import commodities when we have favourable conditions to produce them,” former President Mahama decried.

Speaking at the 24th African Business Conference organised by the Harvard Business School, the former president implored Africa to take control of the trade and processing of its natural resources like cocoa, minerals and build stronger capacity to respond to global energy shocks stemming out of situations such as pandemics and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“We must take control of trade and processing of our natural resources such as cocoa, coffee and minerals to respond favourably to global energy shocks stemming out of pandemics and wars on other continents which has no direct bearing on Africa,” former President Mahama pointed out and advocated “reintroduction of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to help Africa deal with its rising public debts.

“Many African countries, including Ghana have reached debt distressed levels with debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio ranging between 70 per cent and 80 per cent so there is the need for reconstitution of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to offer our countries some fiscal space to make investments in critical states such as education and health,” he implored.

Former President Mahama bemoaned most African countries had been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war as it had reduced Russian and Ukrainian exports of crucial commodities such as wheat, sunflower oil, and corn and also affected cost of fuel, prices of fertiliser, and other key agricultural inputs including their agricultural value chain. –citinewsroom.com

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