THE Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Prof Elisante Ole Gabriel, has reiterated a need for African countries to come up with ways of working together to advance US-Africa trade and economic cooperation.
Prof Ole Gabriel said this at the 2018 African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) Senior Officials and Ministerial Consultative Meetings in Washington DC on Tuesday.
The theme for this year is “Forging new strategies for US-America trade and investment”.
The forum focused on the implementation of Agoa in view of the US government’s new trade and foreign policy, as well as coming up with strategies for improving US-Africa trade and investment relations.
According to a press statement, the PS notes that African countries need to have a common voice so that negotiations between Africa and America will be one-to-one and look at it as a give and take, not just as a donor given directive.
He noted that the forum came at a time, where 49 African countries had made great strides in the establishment of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Six other nations recently ratified the Treaty, which is a broad-based framework for improved trade, movement of goods, people and easier access to markets for people on the continent.
The PS pointed out that it was anticipated that by 2030 Africa would have a population of 1.7 billion people. “This means an extended market base.”
“The meeting in this note has deliberated on how Africa has benefited from the Act and how the continent can look post-2025, when the implementation of Agoa will be in its final stage.
As a continent, we should not only look at it as America helping Africa, but also America should see this as an opportunity that Africa is offering to America,” he said.
He noted that such kind of cooperation could be challenging based on demographic factors like population, but, while citing the example of Nigeria with a population of 200 million people and Tanzania with about 55 million people and in other countries, was even lesser.
“We shouldn’t focus on our differences, but on commonalities…another challenge is economic power, country status varies from the least developed to the middle-income economies and others like South Africa are closely developed.
This can be a very serious barrier. Again, the issue of language cannot be a challenge, but again it’s a problem because there are those who are Anglophones and Francophones, this is a division,” said the PS.
In his presentation, the PS spoke of macro environmental forces, which he said were powerful and these include economic, technological, social and political factors.
The PS elaborated that every force was supposed to be one fourth of the total forces, but it was not the case, for the political aspect determined the order of the game.