Trade Experts Call for Intra-Continental Trade

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Experts meeting here in Kigali on Wednesday for regional trade promotion urged African countries to promote intra-African trade and economic integration to address development challenges in African countries.

Held under the backdrop of promoting Africa’s trade and economic transformation, the three day meet has brought together global experts and shareholders to discuss the future of intra-African trade.

Claver Gatete, the Minister of Finance and Economic planning noted that the Bank’s decision to choose Rwanda as the host of the 24th Afreximbank meeting demonstrates strong partnership and the role that the bank plays in supporting our Rwanda’s economic transformation.

“The Bank has provided direct financing in an amount of US$155 million in support of various development projects including this Convention Centre and Hotel and other projects in pipeline are being considered for funding by the Bank,” Minister Gatete said.

Denys Denya, Afreximbank’s executive vice President, Finance, Administration & Banking Services at, said that the decision to hold this year’s annual general meeting of the bank in Kigali was inspired by the continuous relationship with the country.

“We gather here at the time when the continent is embarking on the path of structural transformation for sustaining growth and development. The choice of Rwanda to host this meeting is partly because of the growing relations, but more importantly because Rwanda offers an enormous inspiration to the continent,” he said.

Sharing East Africa’s example, Minister Gatete told participants that Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya are currently enjoying a lot of benefits under the Northern Corridor initiative.

“Few years back, it was hard to trade between these countries but when the Heads of State met, came up with serious decisions that saw countries develop new strategies to ease the trade along these countries’ routes. It used to take 21 days to move from Mombasa port to Kigali, but it now takes only 5 days,” he noted.

Minister Gatete pointed out that despite the relative improvement in trade observed over the last decade, intra-African trade has remained very low, at about 15% against 67% in Europe, 53% in Developing Asia and about 37% in America.

“This low performance is due to key challenges that have hampered economic development and structural transformation of African economies like; Infrastructure deficit, insufficient export diversification; the small size of economies and market fragmentation on the basis of low level of integration; the low level of intra-regional trade among African countries and over-reliance on export of natural resources and primary commodities which have undermined the capacity of countries to effectively enter global value chains,” Minister Gatete said.

According to Denya, despite Africa’s gains in terms of trade, the continent continues to struggle to achieve inclusive growth and accelerated development making it a home to millions of the world’s poorest.

“Africa remains a periphery player in global trade contributing below 3 percent to global trade—and trade has to a large extent failed to unlock development as in other regions, a contrast which has created the urgency to re-examine the continent’s economic structure, trade arrangements and export composition and re-ignited the question of how trade can be used to support the transformation and sustainable development of Africa,” he said.

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