Africa suffers the most trade discrimination in the whole world, Chairman, Heirs Holdings, Mr Tony Elumelu has said, calling on its leaders to address the barriers facing the continent.
Elemulu said this at a side event on “Charting the Course: The Future of U.S.-Africa Trade and Investment Relations,” at the ongoing U.S.- Africa Leaders’ Summit on Wednesday in Washington D.C.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Elumelu spoke as a panelist at a U.S. Africa Business Forum with other panelists from Africa.
Others are: President William Ruto of Kenya, Prime Minister of Morroco, Aziz Akhannouch; Alfred Kelly, CEO of Visa; Wamkele Mene, Secretary- General, AfCFA Secretariat and Amb. Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative.
Elemulu emphasised the need to urgently address internal and external obstacles confronting the African continent, especially trade discrimination.
Elemulu, who is the Chairman of the United Bank for Africa, however, challenged African leaders to rise to the occasion, as the continent had the capacity to do a whole lot for itself and the world.
“We should not allow this discrimination to discourage us. Africa can be the food basket of the world. Africa can do a whole lot more for the world and itself the moment we address the obstacles.
“We need to look at our structure, we need to work together to turn Africa into a manufacturing centre.
“Africa can do a lot more than it is doing today. The opportunities on the African continent are huge, but we need to address trade barriers and obstacles as well as environmental challenges,’’ he said.
The Nigerian Banker told the audience that he had been supporting young entrepreneurs across Africa, adding that through the work of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, he will want to see these young entrepreneurs become multinationals.
“We need to change the stereotype. We need to change our mindset. We need to understand that Africa has opportunities. Let’s embrace Africa as we embrace other parts of the world.”
“Africa can be the breadbasket of the world. Africa can do a whole lot more for the world.
“What I see as opportunities on the continent in the area of trade and investment is huge, but for us to realise that we need to do more in removing obstacles as well as address environmental issues. If we remove these two, we can make progress.”
NAN reports that Africa’s importance to global trade and investment will dramatically increase as its young population is set to double by 2050 to 2.5 billion people, representing more than a quarter of the world’s population, with a business and consumer market of 16 trillion dollars.
Africa is in the process of becoming the world’s largest single market via the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as a number of countries have enacted reforms to improve business environments and attract private investment.
These reforms and harmonisation under AfCFTA will make African companies increasingly competitive and promote their integration into global supply chains.
African countries are targeting efforts to develop key industries that play to U.S. strengths, including automotives, pharmaceuticals, energy, and ICT, including strategies to attract investments in critical infrastructure. Despite the tremendous opportunities emerging, U.S. trade and investment with Africa.