Bridging infrastructure gap critical for AfCFTA success 

Source: Bridging infrastructure gap critical for AfCFTA success | The Herald

Bridging infrastructure gap critical for AfCFTA success
Professor Benedict Oramah

Prosper Ndlovu in GABORONE, Botswana

AFREXIMBANK chairman and president, Professor Benedict Oramah, says urgent measures must be taken towards building adequate infrastructure that supports the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

As the continent pushes towards an integrated free trade market under the historic deal, which came into force early last year and has been ratified by Zimbabwe and several regional peers, the need to bolster infrastructure development has come under the spotlight as a key enabler to trade competitiveness.

Academic studies and experts concur that major infrastructure such as roads, aviation, rail, energy, and information communication technology, among others, play a critical role in enhancing viable trade development and promotion, as well as trimming trade deficits.

Speaking at the Botswana Global Expo, which ends here today with about 30 Zimbabwean companies participating, Prof Oramah said lack of adequate infrastructure would be a major drawback to the quick realisation of the desired AfCFTA gains.

Pushing the boundaries towards industrialisation, he stated, was critical for Africa’s transformation with focus on harnessing trade and investment opportunities.

This also includes building adequate infrastructure capacity that supports standards and quality certification of products from the continent.

“In the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area, we must invest more in building trade,” said Prof Oramah.

“Lack of infrastructure is the biggest constraint as well as the problem of access to information.”

Despite being home to key industrial raw materials, he said it was disheartening that Africa still relies on the importation of most finished products including fertiliser and that because of this, the continent has been exposed to geopolitical complications such as the Russia-Ukraine war.

Prof Oramah said it was ironic that Africa was inclined to trading more of its primary products mainly with foreign markets at a time when intra-Africa trade remained low, hovering below 20 percent on average.

He said such patterns were a legacy of colonisation, which modeled African economies to serve Western interests, adding that this must be corrected through AfCFTA.

“It is these barriers that we must break in order to improve our economic situation as a continent and the AfreximBank is committed to supporting the growth of intra-Africa trade,” said Prof Oramah.

“In doing this we seek to increase intra-regional from about 16 percent to at least 25 percent.”