NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
African countries must increase trade among
themselves if they are to realize economic freedom in the next
five years, trade experts meeting in the Kenyan capital Nairobi
said on Thursday.
“Africa is importing
more because we are not trading with each other. This needs to
change. We cannot realize economic freedom and prosperity like
Asia, Europe and the U.S. if we do not improve,” said Jaswinder
Bedi, chairman of Kenya’s Export Promotion Council.
The experts from
various local and regional bodies are meeting for a session
dubbed “Building Intra African Trade - Kenya Engagement” aimed
at accelerating plans for increasing intra-Africa trade.
According to data
complied by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), one of
the key reasons why intra-African trade, now at a level of
around 15 percent compared to Europe’s 59 percent and Asia’s 51
percent, is because of lack of access to trade and market
Afreximbank director and global head of strategy and innovation,
said there is a planned pan-African trade fair that is meant to
address this challenge.
collaboration with the African Union, decided to among other
initiatives, convene the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) every
two years to provide trade and market information and connect
buyers and sellers from across the continent. The next one will
be in Cairo, Egypt later this year,” he said.
African Union had
earlier made a resolution to increase intra-Africa trade from
the current 15 percent to 25 percent by the year 2022.
According to Oluoch,
the Afreximbank is working along that declaration by increasing
its support in monetary terms for intra-Africa trade.
“The portfolio going
towards intra-Africa trade must rise to this level. Trading
among ourselves will ring-fence us against external shocks that
have caused a lot of devastation in African economies,” he said.
Rachel Muthoga, the
deputy chief executive of Kenya Private Sector Alliance, called
on African countries to prioritize their export strategies and
ensure their manufacturing is competitive in order to create
more jobs for the growing youth population.