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Business News of Friday, 8 February 2013

Source: B&FT

‘Promote intra-African trade’

The South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Ms. Jeanette Ndhlovu, has called for an increase in intra-African trade in order to build strong economies on the continent.

The World Bank estimate that intra-African trade accounts for about 10 percent of the region’s total trade, compared to rates of 40 percent for intra-North American trade and about 60 percent for trade among Western European countries.

Africa’s population of about one billion consumers presents a unique opportunity for growth and intra-African trade. However, this potential remains largely unexplored.

“This is an anomaly that should be corrected by governments and business leaders on the continent. Governments [on the continent] should remove trade barriers [among African countries] and fight at the World Trade Organisation level for removal of subsidies. For instance, the suspension/ending of subsidies to farmers in Europe and America,” she said.

She was speaking at the launch of this year’s edition of the Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) programme, held in Accra under the theme “The Role of Leadership in Driving National Economic Prosperity”.

MS. Ndhlovu said business leaders can play a pivotal role if they look beyond the narrow confines of their borders. “It is time for Africans to engage each other and share ideas on how to develop our continent, which is on its way to prosperity. Africa is likely to extricate the global economy from its crisis. The era of Afro-pessimism is coming to an end.”

The Executive Director of the Business and Financial Times Mrs. Edith Dankwa said the GEF “seeks to bring together industry chieftains and thought leaders in civil society to discuss and debate key issues affecting the Ghanaian economy, and offer solutions to help overcome the challenges in order to enhance achievement of the country’s economic development plans.

Mr. Martin Ofori, the Acting Managing Director of First Atlantic Bank, said: “Leadership is the number-one solution that can transform the economy. We will need to have very successful individual leadership that is able to harness the opportunities available so it can have the needed trickle-down effect.

“Government must create an enabling environment for individual entrepreneurs and visionaries. Leadership at the governmental level is critical,” he said.