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Business News of Friday, 24 April 2020

Source: B&FT Online

Post Coronavirus: Africa must adopt inward-looking trade strategy - Ofosu-Dorte


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African countries are being urged to adopt an inward-looking trade strategy post COVID-19 to help boost the continent’s industrialisation agenda, and also make it a strong force in the global supply chain management.

According to the Executive Chairman of law firm AB & David, David Ofosu-Dorte, this is the time African countries must position themselves in the commerce space and be known for the distribution of certain goods and services throughout the trans-national companies’ global network to maximise profit.

“For Africa, now that there is a need to rely on local producers for PPE, masks and hand-sanitisers, it means we need to see how we can domesticate a lot of our purchases and use public procurement as one of the tools which we can use to grow our industries.

“The other thing is if we did very good negotiations with all investors, both domestic and foreign, we could see Africa and some countries in Africa becoming an alternate base of supply chain for some items. I think this is one of the areas we should look at and act properly,” he said.

He added that African leaders must properly coordinate and ensure they are helping each other during these difficult times. To him, this will serve as a means to deepen self-dependence among each other, and join forces to become strong trade partners to the world.

“We can as Africans coordinate our COVID-19 response in such a way that the virus becomes an impetus for increasing intra-African trade rather than decreasing intra-Africa trade. The end result of this could be that it may be prudent to buy more from fellow African countries than constantly be looking at China and other countries outside Africa,” Mr. Ofodu-Dorte added.

He is of the view that the global COVID-19 pandemic has offered a favourable opportunity for African countries to restrategise and serve as alternative supply channels to global companies. “The West has learnt something. Depending on China as the main supply line is not something that can be kept up going forward,” he said.

He is proposing that through the African Union (AU) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), African countries should be made to produce a COVID-19 impact analysis of AfCFTA. The document should come with an adjusted Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) strategy plan to help the continent identify challenges countries faced and are facing due to COVID-19, and draft some measures to mitigate and strengthen supply chains in specific areas.

“We have to require all African countries to adjust their BIAT and present it to the AU and the Secretaria – a COVID-19 impact analysis of AfCFTA. If each country did that and adjusted its BIAT, it would tell us some of the things we can do better. One of the things COVID-19 has taught us is that supply lines do not need to depend on one region of the world,” Mr. Ofosu-Dorte said on the Eye On Port programme.

He concluded that these are some of the advantages that the continent can derive from COVID-19, and efforts must be made to ensure that the continent’s fortunes change post COVID-19.

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