‘AfCFTA Holds Key to Africa’s Economic Transformation’


Dike Onwuamaeze

The President of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) Prof. Benedict Oramah, has declared that the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will transform Africa to the world’s next economic miracle. 

Oramah, noted that Africa should use the AfCFTA, which was conceived to break colonial trade barriers and promote intra African trade, to change its story as a continent that wallows in poverty in spite of being blessed with rich resources. 

He made this declaration recently, while delivering the 17th CVL Annual Lecture and International Leadership Symposium with the theme: ‘Intra African Trade: Growth and Economic Development.’

According to him, Africa was able to produce great and wealthy empires like Mali, Ghana and Bini before the dawn of colonialism because of strong intra-African trade that existed then. 

He said the AfCFTA was an opportunity to reverse the colonial trend that erected borders that hindered Africans from trading among themselves, adding that colonialism has ended many decades ago and Africa would not continue to blame it for its failures.

He also stated that AfCFTA would enable Africa to industrialise and improve its share of global manufacturing output. 

“It will increase African trade by $35 billion,” he added.

The Afreximbank President said Africa has all the ingredients it needs to launch itself to prosperity. 

“All the ingredients are there for Africa to bolt away from decades of poverty and become a developed economy. Demographics and natural resources are two ingredients to transform the economies of Africa. We only need to unlock these potentials.”

Oramah, asserted that Africa’s greatest potential for greatness is its huge young population, in spite of the conventional view that the continent’s abundant natural resources are its greatest assets to greatness.

“It is the quality of a population that matters and not really the number of the people. The important thing is that you must have quality people. 

“The unique feature of Africa’s demographic is that it is a young population.  Africa’s youthful population can be an asset. The conventional wisdom is that the greatest assets we have are our natural resources. 

“I don’t think so. Our greatest asset is our people. All that is needed is the education that can convert our youths into men and women of actions.”  

Speaking during the lecture, a former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Joseph Sanusi, said as the continent approaches the commencement of the AfCFTA, there was need for governments in the sub-region to pause and review how far they had implemented the Economic Community of West African State free trade agreement. 

Sanusi, warned the Nigerian private sector to get prepared because the keyword in the emerging AfCFTA would be competitiveness. 

The Chairperson of CVL, Prof. Ifeoma Utomi, in her welcome address, during the lecture said the vision of CVL was to groom leaders with the right values.

Dignitaries at the lecture included the Founder of CVL, Prof. Pat Utomi; Deputy President of African Business Roundtable, Mr. Goodie Ibru; Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Femi Hamzat; Deputy Governor of Edo State, Mr. Philip Shaibu; Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, Mr. Ibrahim Hassan Hadejia and Consul General of South African, Mr. Darkey Africa.