Kenya’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, has challenged the industrial community in the continent to exhaust the African market before exporting the surplus to promote intra- African trade. He said the over one billion population in the continent offered a lucrative market for local products but urged African nations to break existing barriers to trade, to facilitate cross border trade.
The premier said the continent through the AGOA initiative could make the Intra African trade a reality and asked stakeholders in the manufacturing sector to push the political class in their respective countries to embrace free trade policies. “These artificial barriers must be dismantled to facilitate flow of goods within the continent before exploring into the external market “he told a dinner party at a Nairobi hotel. Odinga who made a key note address during the Launch of The African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF) regretted that the restrictions imposed on trade made it impossible for neighbouring countries to transact cross border business. “It is a pity that we have resigned to receive African goods through other continents because of our own making at a time when the European Union has opened her doors to trade within the community” he posed.
The Premier ruled that the continent could do without Aid from the developed nations when trade and investment were harnessed for economic growth of the continent. He said there was nothing to show for the Aid pumped into the continent over the years since the gains presumed to be realized out of the charity gesture only favoured the donor country. “If you just look at the statistics of aid pumped into the continent you will concur with me that it reflects a bottomless pit but we are telling the world that we are not invalid and want to work for our progress” he said.
The premier who also witnessed a showcase of African designer’s collections announced government plans to revive the ailing textile industry in the country following the release of a task force report on the sector. He said “the textile industry spurred the industrial revolution in Europe before the same was replicated among the Asian tigers arguing that it was time for Africa to make the leap within the current century” to push the continent to the next level . “Let’s roll up our sleeves and move the continent from a struggling third world economy to a middle income and subsequently reach a developed status in the foreseeable future” Odinga said.
Deputy Chairperson of the African Union commission Mr. Erastus Mwencha however revealed that recent statistics from the African development Bank indicated that the continent was fast recovering from the effects of the recent global financial downturn. He further noted that the latest survey projected the growth rate in the continent at 4% annually but said the figure could improve if the continent added value to their export rather than produce primary commodities. Mwanche also expressed fears that the continent was ill prepared to cushion the aftershocks of external economic crises and more than often suffered due to lack of strong regional markets that we independent of international forces.
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