The creation of an emblematic Made-in-Africa brand will promote intra-African trade and boost the international export of African products, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said.
Obasanjo spoke at the end of the third day of the ongoing Intra-African Trade Fair 2021 (IATF2021) in Durban, South Africa.
Speaking at a conversation session at the fair, Obasanjo said having a Made-in-Africa brand would instill a sense of pride in each African country.
He said the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) was working to remove the divisions colonialism brought, where Africa was divided into regions based on the languages of the colonialists.
The shared vision of IATF2021 participants and the traders at the Trade Fair, he said, is what will bring the AfCFTA to life.
“I have been impressed by the interaction of people at the IATF. People are working together, and this creates the environment in which miracles can happen,” Obasanjo said.
Earlier, during another panel session on the theme ‘Integrating African manufacturers into regional and global value chains’, Afreximbank’s Director & Global Head for Trade Finance, Gwen Mwaba, said Africa was blessed with an abundance of ideas.
Mwaba, however, said Africa did not have the knowhow to convert these ideas into viable and profitable businesses, resulting in lost intellectual property.
Describing the challenge as three-pronged, Mwaba said, “Africans have a plethora of good ideas that are not followed-up.
“For those that are followed up, the good ideas are not sustained; and the few good ideas that are followed-up and sustained are often not rigorously maintained.”
She suggested the use of education to address the intellectual property challenge in Africa, saying the resulting business ideas could be harnessed and given a chance at success with the support available from Afreximbank.
Mwaba added that Africa needed more industrial development zones, built by the public sector, where the cost of production and manufacturing was reduced, and several countries could combine their industrial strengths to meet common goals.
“By leveraging innovative multi-country collaborative models, African countries can start to manufacture and export products to the rest of the world.
“Asia has done this successfully with brands such as Hyundai, whose vehicle components are manufactured and assembled by different entities, all working to leverage their individual capabilities,” she said.
For the Deputy Director, Capacity Building, at the World Customs Organisation, Ebenezer Tafili, political will was needed to have the kind of operating environment needed to allow Africa’s ideas to flourish.
Tafili added that the political will would also help Africa leverage the free trade agreement where countries would match their potential to grow the manufacturing sector.
“The AfCFTA needs political will to support its success, which requires collaborative private-public partnerships to ensure viability.
“Without a strategy to change policy and allow for more manufacturing and industrialization, the notion that Africans are merely consumers and not producers will continue to exist,” he said.
Organized by Afreximbank in collaboration with the African Union and the AfCFTA Secretariat, the seven-day IATF2021 is providing a platform to promote trade under the AfCFTA.
The IATF2021 features over 6,000 buyers, sellers, and other stakeholders participating to share trade, investment and market information as well as trade finance and trade facilitation solutions designed to support intra-African trade and Africa’s economic integration. (NAN)
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