Trade with Africa - Things You Need to Know
Most countries in Africa have enjoyed sustained economic growth over the past 15 years, with growth rates often exceeding 5% per year. At the Chamber’s webinar on 5 May, a panel of experts shared their insights into the latest developments in Africa, the potential impacts of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, as well as the challenges and opportunities that their countries are facing.
Skander Negasi, CEO of Trade and Fairs Consulting & Trade and Fairs East Africa, kicked off the event with a presentation on the business environment in Africa. He explained that the continent was home to half of the world's fastest-growing economies in terms of GDP growth. Africa is also poised to keep its position as the world’s youngest continent by 2030, by which time 57% of the population will be under 25 years old, meaning the continent will continue to possess a young workforce and large consumer market ripe for investment. Economic activities will be catalyzed with the AfCFTA, which came into force in 2021 and aims to boost continental trade from 16% to 60%, strengthen industrialization and logistics, and bring African countries into a unified customs bloc.
In the panel discussion that followed, Getachew Regassa, Secretary General of Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce & Sectoral Associations, told members that Ethiopia was going through a complete economic reform with the private sector spearheading the country’s economic growth. The country was in the process of establishing its first stock market, Regassa said, and changes to its investment laws had liberalized its telecom sector by allowing foreign investors in. Other areas of interest include the digital economy, financial sector, mining and manufacturing.
Dr Erick Rutto, Vice President of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, pointed out that Kenya was the largest economy in East Africa and had sustained a GDP growth of 5-6.5% in the past five years. The country has emerged as Africa’s top technology and innovation hub, so much so that it has been dubbed “Silicon Savannah” in recent times. Dr Rutto encouraged members to look into promising sectors such as ICT, healthcare, affordable housing and agritech.
Chime Jude, Executive Director of Trade of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Nigeria accounts for about half of West Africa’s population, with approximately 202 million people. While it is the largest oil exporter in Africa and has the largest natural gas reserves on the continent, in addition to an abundance of untapped mineral wealth, the Government has made efforts to diversify its economy, so there are opportunities in priority sectors such as mining, agriculture, energy and transportation infrastructure, as well as telecommunications.
Special thanks to Trade and Fairs Consulting & Trade and Fairs East Africa (official representative of Messe Frankfurt) for co-organizing the webinar with us.