The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) chairman and president, Professor Bennedict Oramah has called for urgent measures towards building adequate infrastructure to support the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.
Speaking at the Botswana Global Expo last week where more than 25 Zimbabwean companies participated, Prof Oramah said, inadequate infrastructure was a major drawback to quick realisation of the desired AfCFTA gains.
“Pushing the boundaries towards industrialisation, is critical for Africa’s transformation with focus on harnessing trade and investment opportunities, this also includes building adequate infrastructure capacity that supports standards and quality certification of products from the continent,” he said.
Oramah urged the African Continental Free Trade Area to invest more in building trade.
“As the continent pushes towards an integrated free trade market under the historic deal, which came into force early last year and has been ratified by Zimbabwe and several regional peers, the need to bolster infrastructure development has come under spotlight as a key enabler to trade competitiveness,” added Oramah.
Academic studies and experts concur that major infrastructure such as roads, aviation, rail, energy and Information Communication Technology, among others, play a critical role in enhancing viable trade development and promotion.
Oramah said, it was disheartening that Africa still relies on importation of most finished products including fertiliser and that because of this, the continent has been exposed to geopolitical complications such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“It is these barriers that we must break in order to improve our economic situation as a continent and the Afreximbank is committed to supporting growth of intra-Africa trade,” said Oramah.
He also stressed the need for economies to embrace modern digitalisation to enhance trade facilitation, market intelligence and inclusion of the majority of the populace in mainstream economy.
Commenting on Zimbabwe’s participation at the expo, Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) company chief executive officer, Dr Nicholas Ndebele, who was part of the delegation hailed local businesses already positioning themselves for expanding the regional market footprint.
“With the advent of the AfCFTA, it’s important for Zimbabwe to benchmark against regional peers in various sectors that are going to be part of the growing competition.
“In order to develop the adequate trade muscle, we need to interact more and network with peers in the region, and our participation here is part of the process,” he said.