Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has said it is time for Africa to change the narrative of poverty and underdevelopment that has been fostered on the continent.
According to the Vice President, Africa has every single resource needed to become a global superpower once its leaders find ways to unlock that potential.
Dr Bawumia made these remarks whilst addressing the Africa Prosperity Dialogue currently ongoing at Safari Valley in the Eastern Region of Ghana.
“The time has come for Africa and Africans to define our own narrative. We cannot allow poverty and underdevelopment to be the destiny of Africa, a continent so blessed with every natural resource imaginable – oil, gas, minerals, and sunshine,” Ghana’s Vice President said.
“We have approximately 65% of all available arable land available to feed 9 billion people globally by 2050 and we are home to the most youthful population in the world. We have everything we need to transform Africa into a global powerhouse of the future,”
Bawumia said the crux of the matter is that African nations trade so little between themselves, despite collectively controlling a significant enough portion of the world market to create a truly powerful bloc.
He pointed out that Africa only accounts for about three per cent of global trade and intra-African trade is one of the lowest of any region globally, attributing it to what he described as largely “colonial” economic models characterised by small individual economies, fragmented and disconnected regional markets, over-reliance and low productive capacities that we have practised for 60 years.
Bawumia said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is the solution to this and its successful implementation would lead to Africa fulfilling its potential.
“As growing economies, we often struggle to attract much-needed investments. However, with the collaborated strength from all 55 Member States, we have a population of 1.2 billion, the majority of whom are young, and a GDP of US$ 2.5 trillion, making Africa the eighth (8th) largest economy in the world. With the right investment, we will be able to sustain economic growth and create the job opportunities that the continent desperately needs,” he said.
Bawumia called AfCFTA a real game-changer that once fully realised “…can increase intra-African trade by some US$ 35 billion and reduce external imports by some US$ 10 billion annually.
“This will mean more opportunities for growth for our small businesses and the potential to lift more than three million people out of poverty.”
Speaking further, Bawumia outlined critical areas African countries need to upgrade in to take full advantage of this new era of trade, including investments in his beloved ‘digital’ sector.
“As a continent, we need to produce and trade our way out of poverty and underdevelopment, and we cannot do that without investing in smart infrastructure across the continent. While the last decades have seen some positive investments, there is the need for additional resources to finance the ‘arteries for trade’, which include the physical infrastructure such as roads, rail, and energy; digital infrastructure such as data centres to facilitate the digital transformation and financial infrastructure to allow for integrated financial markets.
“These investments will be critical to delivering the success of the AfCFTA… We must create platforms for knowledge brokerage and access to information on critical products and services on the continent to allow 445 million small businesses across the continent to plug into the value chains of these mega industries.” Dr Bawumia added.
The Africa Prosperity Dialogues is organised by the Africa Prosperity Network, founded by Ghanaian legal luminary, Gabby Otcher-Darko.