Rwanda President Paul Kagame has appealed to African countries to prioritize regional trade and industrialise their economies to spur growth and prosperity on the continent.
“We still have a long way to go, and more work to do, to strengthen continental integration and raise the share of intra-African trade, which at 15 percent, is unacceptably low,” said Kagame.
“Africa needs to be more resilient in the face of consistent global shocks and increasing protectionism.”
The Rwandan leader said too often, African countries find themselves at a disadvantage when negotiating trade with other parts of the world – a situation that needs to change.
Kagame made the remarks on Saturday at the Afreximbank’s 24th Annual General Meeting in Kigali, Rwanda.
For the last two decades, AfreximBank has been raising money, financing strategic projects which many believe is a huge contribution to Africa’s pursuit of prosperity, and independence.
Kagame said the ever increasing need for Africa to industrialise and other factors should not just remain objects of reference but “drive us to urgently increase trade with each other, invest more within our countries and regions, and build joint infrastructure, in order to better facilitate the movement of people and goods within Africa.”
East African countries are currently building the Standard Gauge Railway to lower the cost of transport and doing business in the region hence spurring economic growth.
Kagame said governments and the private sector should make the most of possibilities offered by Afreximbank, which has established the facilities, expertise, and productive relationships with external funding partners.
“We have examples in some regions where removal of barriers to trade have greatly improved the business environment,” said Kagame, adding, “These lessons need to be shared more widely across the continent so that Africans can reap the full benefits of integration.”