Posted: Monday 30th June 2014 at 21:06 pm

UBA shows the way in exploiting trade opportunities in Africa

It’s about time ECOWAS policy-makers took a cue from other economic groupings such as European Union in enhancing trade among its member countries, Deputy Managing Director for United Bank for Africa, Ghana, Usman Isiaka has advised.

According to him, this is the only way ECOWAS countries can take full advantage of the trading opportunities in Africa to grow their respective economies.

He was speaking to Joy Business at the maiden edition of the United Bank for Africa Bi-annual Trade Conference to facilitate trade in the region.                                                                                                                  

‘The governments have a work to play in facilitating trade and development and you can take a typical example from what is happening within the European Union. There is free movement of people and documentation is relaxed. So the governments need to fashion out ways to relax the exchange controls in a way and manner that will enable all countries to take advantage of the goods that they can produce in the comparative advantage manner. ECOWAS in particular has a major role to play in this regard. So many promises have been made but they’re still on paper. They have to migrate them to a level where they are implemented to facilitate the free movement of goods and people within the region.  And you can see clearly what is happening within the UEMOA and CEMAC zones – the integration of the financial system is encouraging trade activities within those countries’ he noted.

The Trade Conference held in Accra brought together all stakeholders – including relevant government institutions, high commissions and embassies of various African countries, the private sector/captains of industry and commerce as well as bankers. It was under the theme, ‘Driving Regional Trade through Strategic Partnerships’.

Addressing participants, the Managing Director of UBA Ghana, Abiola Bawuah said their decision to organize and sponsor this trade conference attests to UBA’s commitment to the growth and development of the African continent as indicated in their tagline: Africa’s global bank.

‘For any business to move from survival to thriving in this ever changing global business environment, it will require a paradigm shift from doing business in its small corner within its home country to exploring and identifying cross-border trading opportunities,’ she said.

The bulk of the region’s trade is with Europe and America; only about 12% is with other African countries. By comparison 70% of Europe’s trade is with its own continent. The same is true in Asia. In North America the figure is 40%.

Intra-African trade has over the years been emphasized as being far below its enormous potential of creating employment, propelling investment and fostering growth in Africa. This has been attributed to several factors notably including poor infrastructure, cost of doing business and limited role of the private sector among others.  

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