Obasanjo calls for stronger intra-African trade



Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on African countries to explore trading opportunities within the continent as part of efforts to boost their economies.

Obasanjo made the call on Monday when a delegation from the National Council on Industry, Trade and Investment paid him a courtesy visit at his hilltop mansion in Abeokuta.

The delegation led by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enalamah, included the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Aisha Abubakar, and members of some committees of the National Assembly

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the delegation was in Abeokuta for the eighth edition of the council’s meeting with the theme “Diversification of the Nigerian Economy: From Over Dependence on Oil Exports.’’

The former president expressed concern that the share of intra-African trade in Africa’s total trade over the past decade was only about 12 per cent compared to 65 per cent of Asia.

Obasanjo called for removal of all barriers against intra- African trade and the establishment of commodity exchange for agricultural goods produced in the region.

He also called for the establishment of coastal shipping system to ease trading within the region.

Obasanjo expressed optimism that an enhanced coastal shipping system would increase the share of intra-African trade in the region’s total trade by 10 per cent.

He faulted the argument that trading within the African Union would continue to be low because the member countries produced same commodities.

“I want to disabuse the minds of our people against the notion that the level of trading among ourselves will be low because we are producing the same goods.

“Let us note that Britain and France produce the same goods and yet there is strong trading between the two countries.

“The same thing happens between Germany and France as well as among European countries and between Europe and America.

“In any case, let Nigeria which is advanced in the production of noodles sell to Angola where the goods are in heavy demand.

“Let Kenya which is very good at producing Kiwi polish and cashew nuts sell to Nigeria first and not to Europe and we in Nigeria would, in turn, sell our goods for which we have comparative advantage to Kenya.

“All I know as I was growing up is farming and trading and these are the professions that my parents used to send me to school.

“Nigeria needs to actively engaged and strengthen both internal and external trading to quickly get out of recession,’’ he said.

He urged members of the National Assembly to make laws that would ensure that Nigeria increases its level of productivity and trading.

Earlier in his remarks, Enalamah had commended Obasanjo for his commitment to the unity and development of the country.

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