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Africa’s richest man and President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote has decried intra-africa trade bottlenecks causing business frustrations and hindering business growth in the continent.
He identified some of the factors as frustrating trade and immigration policies which he described as infrastructural deficit and policies that have created bottlenecks for trade among African countries.
Dangote made this remarks at the launch of a book on structured trade finance authored by the President, Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah, in Lagos.
He noted that the major problem remains lack of proper understanding of the dynamics of how African trade works. This he said has led to a decline in the exportation of goods out of Africa between 2012 and 2015. He explained further that it costs more to export to African countries than to send goods to countries outside the continent due to the presence of several borders where duties are expected to be paid.
“We in Africa are making things difficult for ourselves. For example, today, it costs an average of 2.5 per cent to export outside Africa, but when exporting to another African country, the cost rises to about 13.3 per cent. This is making it difficult to do business. Today, in South America’s integrated market, the trade among them is 40 per cent and the one for the European Union is 60 per cent; but in Africa, it is 10 per cent.
He lamented multiple entry visas required to enter african countries, noting that that was not the practice in other places. “For someone like me who likes to invest here and there, I need 38 visas to enter 54 African countries. For a British person, he doesn’t need those visas.” He said.
Speaking in the same vein, a former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, said that the rejection of currencies of other African countries by their counterparts was hindering intra- continent trade. “We ought to trade with each other. Currency is a problem. I should be able to buy pharmaceuticals in Ghana and pay in naira,” he stated.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Trade, Femi Edun, said there were plans to establish a testing laboratory for the Standards Organisation of Nigeria to test locally made products before exporting them. He added that Africa would be the engine of global economic growth in the 21st century.
The minister expressed confidence that in spite of Nigeria’s challenges, “the country will rise again’’. He described the author as a classical example of “made in Nigeria’’ product exported to the world. He said that the publication of the book was at a period when Africa was finding solution to its developmental challenges.
The author, Dr. Benedict Oramah said the book entitled: ‘Foundations of Structured Trade Finance’, was written to spread knowledge on structured trade finance in tertiary institutions, improve the quality of their Economics, Finance and Banking graduates, and make them employable.