By Yunus Yusuf
Mr Temitope Shonubi, Executive Director, Sahara Group on Friday said Africa’s huge economic growth potential could be harnessed through robust intra-African trade and collaboration.
A statement issued by the company in Lagos quoted Shonubi as saying this at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) event tagged “High Level Dialogue” in Accra.
The theme was “Africa’s Money for African Development, a Future Beyond Aid.’’
Shonubi said Africa needed to look beyond dependence on foreign aid and embrace the pursuit of economic growth and development as a “single entity with common interests, goals and aspirations”.
According to Shonubi, it is Sahara Group’s firm belief that African businesses can be the greatest contributors to Africa’s success.
He, however, said that tackling some of the toughest global challenges could not be achieved by one company or sector alone.
“We therefore need to partner, not merely in business but in building the better, stronger and more economically-vibrant Africa that we all desire,” he said.
Shonubi noted that Sahara Group’s experience across the continent had shown that intra-African trade could be enhanced through uniform trade policies, shared infrastructure and technology.
The director said that others were ease of movement of persons and goods and transparent regulatory framework for different sectors.
Shonubi said: “As a leading energy conglomerate on the continent, Sahara Group has continued to champion calls for increased trading activities on the continent, especially in the energy sector.
“Sahara Group has at different fora canvassed more collaboration and business activities involving African entrepreneurs, oil and gas businesses, traders and financial institutions, among others.
“Sahara is one of the first African companies to regularly carry out full cycle crude and product transactions using only African resources.”
The event was chaired by Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, who reiterated that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) would facilitate a new wave of economic prosperity if implemented successfully.
Akufo-Addo also noted the need for African economies to become independent of aid, saying that upholding human rights, the rule of law and democratic accountability were key ingredients for sustainable development.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that AfCFTA commits countries to remove tariffs on goods, progressively liberalises trade and addresses non-tariff barriers.
As at the end of 2018, Intra-African trade made up only 15 per cent of the total trading activities by the continent.
Successful implementation of the agreement is projected to create a single African market of over a billion consumers with a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of over 3 trillion dollars.
This will make Africa the largest free trade area in the world.
UNDP’s Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, Mr Ahunna Eziakonwa, said the ‘dialogue’ would be positioned as an ongoing platform to inspire a global audience to recognise the opportunities for Africa’s future prosperity.
The platform also seeks to increase thought leadership about Africa’s development toward self-sustaining future, provide intellectual and analytical insights for the new AfCFTA.
This is because it advances toward African Union’s Agenda 2063 and global goals in Agenda 2030.