Former Deputy Foreign Minister Addresses African Economic Summit

…Urges Deliberate Action to Tackle Inadequate, Infrastructure, Others in Africa

MONROVIA-Former Deputy Foreign Minister, B. Elias Shoniyin has addressed the Africa Economic Summit (AES) as one of the keynote Speakers, admonishing African Leaders to adopt new trends and progressive policies to enhance the attractiveness of the African Markets.

Addressing the two-day Summit in Accra, Ghana last week, Mr. Shoniyin implored African Leaders to work intentionally and take advantage of globalization as demonstrated by many Southeast Asian Countries, including Singapore, South Korea, China, and others.

He pointed out that to do this, Africans must think beyond their own Countries, and must-see Africa as borderless. This approach, according to him, would punctuate the new African Renaissance.

Mr. Shoniyin noted that for the last forty years, the African Markets have continued to be chiefly commodity-based thereby trading in primary resources which are exported to Europe, North America, and now, China, where they are processed,  for creation and opportunities.

This, he told the gathering, could be justified decades ago given that industrialization had not spiked up across Africa.

“Today, African Nations have no excuse to export cocoa, coffee, gold, diamond, and other natural resources to countries outside of Africa” , he added.

“After half a century of breaking away from colonialism, it appears Africa’s future remains entangled by the legacy of colonialism.  “One does not have to look hard to see that. Check the individual countries’ trade numbers and the corresponding partnerships. We trade more with Europe and the US”, the former Deputy Minister noted.

“These numbers reveal to us that countries on the continent are increasingly drifting away from their traditional Western trading partners; however, the shift is not favoring intra- African Trade; instead, it is pivoting toward China”.

“For example, even though The Gambia is completely surrounded by Senegal, the two account for limited trade. It is interesting to note that France remains Senegal’s biggest trading partner, while the Gambia Trade more with the UK than any other country, he stressed.”

The former Deputy Foreign Minister, who is now Dean of the Graduate School of Global Affairs and Policy at Cuttington University, told the 2023’s African Economic Summit that a significant challenge for inter-country trade in Africa is the lack of adequate infrastructure and limited knowledge of the unparallel possibilities in clustering markets.

“I do recall, when I was the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for International Economic Cooperation and Integration of Liberia, a prominent part of my message to potential investors was that when you invest in Liberia, you would be investing in a market of over 300 million consumers. Even though Liberia’s population was about 5 million, I was simply leveraging the extended market created by the 15 countries in the ECOWAS union.

“African Markets are not performing as they should and are lagging in breaking down the barriers between borders due to the inability of countries in regional economic blocs to open, eliminate cross-border tariffs, and remove administrative barriers to enhance trade within the blocs.

“Our regional blocs and custom union are of no value to us Africans if we fail to take measures that truly bind our economies together as a single market”, the former Liberian official asserted.

Contributed by Wremongar B. Joe II

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