Limited knowledge about trade opportunities in African countries was among the biggest impediments to intra-African trade, Amr Kamel, the Executive Vice President for Business Development and Corporate Banking at the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), has said.
Speaking during a panel discussion at the Africa 2017 Forum, organised in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, Kamel said that contrary to the popular view that lack of infrastructure was the biggest challenge to intra-African trade, such trade was actually being hindered mainly because people in one African country lacked information about trade opportunities in other African countries.
He noted that a recent study co-sponsored by Afreximbank showed that some African countries were importing certain products at high cost from outside Africa while the same products were available at much lower costs in nearby African countries.
Kamel said that the fact that Africa was able to support the current level of overall trade with its existing infrastructure meant that infrastructure was not necessarily the issue but rather the challenge was how to make more of that trade intra-African.
He expressed satisfaction that African countries were gradually beginning to realise that intra-African trade held the key to Africa’s development.
Kamel announced that Afreximbank was building certification centres in an attempt to help address the issue of the quality of goods produced in African countries. Having the goods certified to international standards would make them acceptable exports into the international markets.
Timothy McPherson Jr., Minister of Finance of Jamaica, said that the African Diaspora was key to the continent’s integration as its members thought of investment in Africa in terms of the entire continent rather than segmenting it into countries and regions.