Envoys of Ghana, Egypt, Rwanda, and others have stressed that value addition to raw materials is key to economic development of the continent and attainment of the African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) goals.
They also urged international partners to consider setting up factories for manufacturing in Africa rather than buying raw materials only to help reduce unemployment of young people in the continent.
Speaking in Lagos on Friday at the launch of Ecofairs Lagos 2024, with the theme, ‘Economic Potential of AFCFTA on Commerce and Trade in Africa’, the Consul-General of Ghana to Lagos, Ms. Samata Bukari, said that African countries must go beyond selling their raw material to adding value to them.
Bukari also stressed the need for cooperation, understanding and sharing of best practices among African countries to benefit more from the trade pact.
According to her, “with AfFCTA, we are not indicating that Africa should trade only with Africans but where there are comparative advantages in Africa, why will you not take that advantage?
“Eliminating barriers of trades around African countries will have a very big population that would go on to bring employment to our teeming youths.
“We must add value to our natural resources before we attempt to sell them out. So our international friends should cut the cost of products by establishing factories and industries here to help us reduce unemployment for our youths.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Ecofairs, Mr. Sylvester Ejarkaminor , said that the fair, which would be held from September 6 to 15, 2024, is a business initiative of ECOWAS and friendly countries in collaboration with the Lagos State Government.
Ejarkaminor said: “Ecofairs has come to benefit all Nigerians at different levels; this is the first time I believe that we will be having day and night fairs in the country. I found out that so many parts of Lagos don’t sleep but they are not doing business and just playing about.”
On his part, the Commercial First Secretary and Head of the Economic and Commercial Office of Egypt, Mr. Ami Altantawy, stressed the need for his country and Nigeria to work together.
Altanrawy expressed his belief that Nigeria is a major gate for West Africa, adding that both countries could work together and maximise the volume of trade and investments to achieve mutual interests and benefits to Egypt and Nigeria.
He said: “However, trade volume between our countries scored in 2022 nearly $143 million and it is far below the expectations and capabilities of the economies of both countries.
“We can cooperate together to fully implement African Continent Free Trade Area AfCFTA to benefit from its advantages. We believe that this step will encourage trade between our countries especially in the sector of food industries, agriculture, mining, energy, construction, infrastructure, textiles, health and medical industries, IT and much more.”
The High Commissioner of Rwanda to Nigeria, Mr. Christophe Bazivamo, said that unlocking the full potential of the AfCFTA required more than just eliminating tariffs.
According to Bazivamo, AfCFTA stands as a testament to a vision of an Africa united in commerce as one unified trade market, empowered by increased trade among African countries, and thriving on shared prosperity.
He emphasised that to truly unlock the AfCTA potential, Africa must also nurture its local industries to transform the continent from a resource exporter to a manufacturing powerhouse.
He said: “Let us nurture our entrepreneurs, empower our skilled workforce especially our youth, and invest in technology that elevates our products to global standards. We must invest in infrastructure, promote local industries and jobs creation with a focus on quality and consistency, and showcase our capabilities on the world stage.
“By working together, changing mindsets and believing in the power of ‘Made in Africa’, we can transform this potential into a reality, a reality where Africa finally trades not just goods, but its own narrative of resilience, invention, and limitless prosperity.”