Monday, February 17, 2020 / 2:29 PM /
Ottoabasi Abasiekong for WebTV / Header Image Credit: WebTV
As the African region prepares to fully implement the ratifications of the Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA signed by over 50 African countries, business leaders, industrialists and financial market players recently explored the opportunities for enhancing Intra-African trade.
This was under the auspices of the 2020 edition of the Centre for Values and Leadership annual symposium which focused on the theme "Intra-African Trade: Growth and Economic Development".
The robust panel session was an avenue for the discussants to identify and address critical issues that must be considered as Africa adopts the AfCFTA.
Dr. Akin Ogunbiyi, the Chairman of Mutual Benefits Insurance Plc, making his contribution advocated for a "Pan-African Insurance Market" that is flexible and can help to galvanize a vibrant continental insurance industry.
At the moment he noted that 75% of industrial premiums in the continent are managed by European and American insurance companies, which should be a challenge for the African insurance business.
He called on development agencies and institutions like the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to leverage the regional blocs and support Intra-African trade.
The Group Managing Director of FBN Holdings Mr. U.K. Eke on his part believed that an efficient and free market economy was critical for Africa.
He said an enabling environment must be created in Africa, for private capital to flow and drive development and growth of the region.
Mr. Eke was of the view that African governments must ensure that they push policies that enable inclusive economic growth in their respective countries.
Chairman, Brittania-U Mrs. Uju Ifejika stressed the need for an integrated infrastructure network in the region, that will strengthen connectivity and improve logistics for the seamless movement of goods and services when the AfCFTA commences.
She also tasked African governments on guaranteeing the security and safety of people and assets on the continent.
According to her there is need for policy consistency in African that would encourage investments into the continent through the AfCFTA.
As a major investor in the region's oil and gas sector Mrs. Ifejika emphasized the need for all the trade, governance and conventional protocols to be respected by African leaders. This in Mrs. Ifejika's view would improve investor confidence in the continent.
For the South African Consul-General to Nigeria, Mr. Darkey Africa, the decade 2020-2030 is a golden one for the continent, and charged the political and business leaders to explore all the angles for addressing social, economic and political issues.
He said the Unity of Africa was critical while identifying women and youth empowerment, as major investments that governments should give top priority.
The Vice-Chairman of the African Business Roundtable, Mr. Goodie Ibru, in his speech alluded to the growing consensus that Africa's time to advance in the areas of business and trade has come.
Mr. Ibru said Africa must stop the era of receiving aids and grants, and push for partnerships that will bring development to the region.