he 14th African Union High-Level Private Sector Forum workshop that was held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Kenya from 10th – 12th July 2023 has made a raft of resolutions to unlock the trade among the African states.
African Union Members States have been called upon to adopt policies to encourage intra-African trade in food production by removing Non-tariff Barriers (NTBs) among other things that currently make imports from outside the continent costlier than locally produced food.
The forum resolved that investments in transport and logistics should be supported to ensure agribusinesses are scaled up and sustainable to ensure food security in the African continent.
AU Member States were further urged to invest in irrigation in agriculture by moving away from the reliance on rain-fed agriculture. African countries, according to a statement released by the East African Community (EAC) secretariat, were called upon to adopt policies that motivate the youth to take part in agriculture to ensure increased production and reduce food insecurity.
The forum further encouraged AU Meand member States to build resilient food systems that are climate resilient by employing technologies that promote investments and also address post-harvest losses.
The workshop vouched for the Public-Private-Partnerships to ensure sustainable financing and management of the national and regional agro-industrial parks and value chains.
“Member States were encouraged to align their agribusiness priorities in line with the Malabo and Maputo declarations and the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP),” reads the statement in part.
On ensuring access to reliable and affordable energy supplies, the forum urged AU Member States to mobilize additional financing towards enhancing the participation of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) by providing subsidies and other incentives to increase energy access in Africa.
“The forum called on the AU Member States to ensure technologies are upgraded to address power leakages that arise from poor metering and delayed replacement of meters.”
AU Members were further urged to invest in essential energy infrastructure and at the same time remove barriers to private investors.
The forum urged the African Union Commission (AUC) to develop guidelines to accelerate the mobilization of additional resources to accompany private sector actors to participate in IPPs within the energy sector in Africa.
On the role of digital trade and its implications for African economies, AU Member States were asked to adopt the development of electronic payments and settlement systems and harmonize user fees on mobile money payments.
The forum called upon Member States to promote the uptake of digital literacy and other critical skills and business-to-people networks.
“The forum called for a mindset change on products made in Africa as well as develop and harmonize digital portals in order to improve content and quality of products at both regional and continental levels,” reads the statement.
To transform the productive capacities of the textile and apparel industry in Africa, the forum resolved to develop innovation centres in the five (5) African regions to promote African fashion based on the common cultural identity.
Member States were urged to adopt policies to ban the importation of second-hand clothes on account of their deleterious impact on the garments and apparel home industry and their health-related negative effects on people, in addition to appropriate policies that support the development of the value chain.
Speaking at the forum, H.E. Albert M. Muchanga, the AU Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals, called for increased investment in productivity if the African continent was to realise the full potential of its huge population and vast natural resources.
“Africa’s share of global trade is just 2.7% as opposed to 20% for China. The difference lies in productivity, productivity and more productivity,” said Amb. Muchanga.
In his remarks, EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki urged African countries to promote local content within their economies to boost intra-African trade and the continent’s share of global trade, adding that there was a lot of potential for growth.
“The United States’ total GDP is US$23 trillion while the Democratic Republic of Congo’s wealth is US$26 trillion if it was well used. Africa has the potential to grow its economy to US$100 trillion if it is fully exploited,” said Dr. Mathuki, adding that the Private Sector can play a vital role in promoting intra-African trade in four (4) key areas, namely: services trade, digital trade, infrastructure development, and climate action and green transition.
“To unlock the full benefits of the dynamic and fast-growing services sector within the continent, there is a need for regulatory reforms to eliminate barriers faced by service providers and enhance the productive and export capacity of African services firms,” he added.
On Digital trade, Dr. Mathuki said that there are an estimated 250 million small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Africa.
“By reducing the cost of cross-border transactions and making it easier for businesses to reach new markets, digital trade will help to level the playing field for SMEs. The EAC has prioritized measures to promote digital trade by harmonizing payment systems, enhancing digital trade facilitation and logistics and ensuring an enabling legal and regulatory environment. It is imperative that we seize these opportunities to harness the full benefits of the digital economy,” said the Secretary-General.
“Infrastructure is what transforms economies so we need to think about establishing one airline that traverses the entire continent. Also, there is an urgent need for One Network Area to ease communication,” he said.
On climate action and green transition, Dr. Mathuki said that Africa needs to close its climate finance gap by annually increasing private sector financing by 36% until 2030.
“This requires addressing both demand-side and supply-side barriers and developing innovative financing instruments. We must strengthen local content and value addition, build institutional capacity, and create regional value chains to fully realize Africa’s natural endowments,” said Dr. Mathuki.
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