By Nse Anthony-Uko
ABUJA, (Sundiata Post) — Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has urged African leaders to ensure proper acceleration of economic growth, alongside wealth creation that would match the political independence of their respective countries.
Obasanjo who spoke at the Afrexim annual meeting in Abuja on Friday decried level of economic developments across African continent, but still expressed optimism that the Africa could compete favourably on the global economic space through commitments and dint of hard work.
The former President who while responding to a question thrown to him by a panel moderator on the topic:”Trade Finance Institutions as Agents of Change in Africa” he said,
“The world is not sympathetic to Africa, and we must through the dint of hard work make the required commitment that would ensure we compete fairly in global economic space”
According to Obasanjo,” I want to go a bit back on what the President of Afrexim said in his opening remarks to say that right from the beginning, our leaders appreciated that political independence must go in hand with economic development. That was the reason why, within months of African Union coming into existence, the African Development Bank followed suit within space of about four months”
The former President however pointed out that: “Despite the fact that our leaders appreciated fact of the political independence followed closely with the economic development, but one of the things we did not know is that the world is rarely sympathetic to us, and we have to get what we have to get out of the world by dint of hard work, by rarely getting it right, that we are architect of our own fortune”
A more optimist former President said, “When we look at what the Afrexim Bank and the African Development Bank is doing, we know that we are getting there. I believe that the issue is that there is money out there, but we have to mobilise the resources internally, and incentivise the processes of our trade, and development to be able to get there”
“If we get it alright which are now doing through the committed efforts of our various institutions like the Afrexim Bank, the African Development Bank and others, we would get there,” Obasanjo said.
The former President who was full of praise for various programmes of policies of the African Exim Bank in ensuring that the various economic gaps are by de-risking trade financing in various countries across the continent, and reacting to various market needs.
One of the Panellists Ronnie Ntuli said, “There is infrastructure finance gap of about $92 billion and we must ensure we fast-track the closure of infrastructure gap . Even as a Trade financing bank, we must continuously build capacity of our clients.”
According to the Panellist, “We must focus on the value addition in our country. We have good example in Botswana. The other side of the argument is promoting infrastructure that promote intra-African Trade, while we have to also promote trade in regional blocks to ensure all gaps are closed by ensure infrastructure linking various regions are closed”
On how the Continental Free Trade Agreement could play a leading role in catalysing Africa’s economic journey, he said, “The connection of various regional blocks which is more visible in in East Africa through proper linkage of various countries in the region is a good example for economic transformation of the continent”
”We must keep connecting markets, connecting regional blocks and closing all the needed gaps that there is in the continent to have a competitive edge” he adds further.
He suggested further that Afrexim Bank and African Development Bank must continually arbitrage African risks, and promote infrastructural development through capital markets, while also exporting other advantages to close infrastructure gaps.
Another participant at the conference Ayodeji Balogun said Africa must endeavour to catch up in trade finance by closing up technological gaps, which has the capacity to close in business gaps.
“Strengthening e-trade, value chains, e-banking is key, in driving trade value chains and all the missing links in closing the MSME gaps are very vital since they form bulk of business deals in Africa”