Poor connectivity has been a major contributor to the persistent issue of low regional trade across Africa.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement can help the continent make significant strides forward in trade, investment, and productivity. Yet, to avoid an “own goal,” and increase AfCFTA’s chances of success, public-private dialogue must be accelerated to overhaul the connectivity infrastructures across the continent, argued Amujae Leader Dr. Yakama Manty Jones in a recent op-ed published in Trade for Development News.
The poor condition of much of Africa’s physical infrastructure has hampered movement around the continent, Dr. Jones wrote. This has led to lower efficiency, higher costs, and lower cross-border trade.
“Without good roads, bridges, and railways, how can farmers in one country ensure that their goods arrive in another country in good time and prime condition at a reasonable price? How can a West African textile manufacturer best export her products to Central Africa?” she asked.
The Amujae Leader further argued that investments in physical infrastructure must be complemented by efforts to rebuild human capital across Africa to ensure it has the ‘soft infrastructure’ to capitalize on these investments.
Warning of the consequences of overlooking such crucial infrastructure investments, Dr. Jones—the Director of Research and Delivery at the Ministry of Finance in Sierra Leone—urged governments across the African continent to leverage private sector support and participation:
“This infrastructure for connectivity is a long-term investment that may take many years to develop. It is critical that African governments start working together with the private sector and other stakeholders at pace to improve trade routes, quality digital infrastructure, and policies that will create the passages and links to facilitate trade.”
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