The rising rate of food importation in Africa is still a mystery the continent is yet to solve considering the fact that Africa is the home to 50 per cent of the world’s cultivatable land, and has vast unexploited water resources and various agro-ecological zones. However, the manufacturing and processing sectors are still at a slow growth pace leading to the need for importation of process food from other foreign countries. Going by the current import reliance trend on Africa’s food importation expenses which revealed that Africa expensed approximately $35 billion on food imports in 2016 and is predicted to hit a surge to the tune of $110 billion by 2025 if left unchecked.
The African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN), have proposed limitless trade consolidation among countries in the continent. At the Africa Trade Forum 2018, in Lagos, the Stakeholders, in attendance whereof the notion that unless firm support of the manufacturing sector is given and also the enhancement of trade facilitation across borders, the continent would not meet its growth aspirations. Emphasis was made on the adequate utilisation of Africa’s water resources and massive investment in sea trade coupled with the exploitation of the vast agricultural opportunities in the continent.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa stated in its latest bulletin that, “the potential of the blue economy, which incorporates a range of productive sectors in trade and marine services, is presently underutilised. “Approximately 90 per cent of Africa’s trade is seaborne, but African-owned ships account for only 1.2 per cent of global shipping, and 0.9 per cent of gross tonnage, while African ports handle six per cent of global waterborne traffic, and three per cent of global container traffic.” The Executive Secretary, Economic Commission of Africa, Vera Songwe, however, commended African countries for coming together on trade, pointing out that the new African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), is a game changer with the introduction of the digital economy under the new trade regime which is said to cut cost, and ease the trading of goods across Africa.
Nigeria’s Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Okechukwu Enelamah, added that the country is also interested in growing African trade, and thus needs to study the provisions of the AfCFTA, stating that; “Our countries, individually, and our African Union, collectively, are confronted with a complex of problems that are compounding. These include demographic pressures; a population growth rate that has out-stripped Gross Domestic Product growth rates; unemployment; food insecurity; and, the justified impatience of a youthful African population, demanding for a better life. “There is progress on our continent. But, we need to move much faster, more purposefully, with improved coordination and greater discipline to harvest the abundance of opportunities. “The pace of change and transformation in the global economy beyond Africa has accelerated. Africa cannot afford to stand still or proceed at a slow pace. As with the expression, whenever you wake is your morning. Now that Africa has woken up we must shift into speed gear and accelerate. We must be more business-like.”
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