At the ongoing trade and investment summit in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called on African countries to explore trading opportunities within the continent as part of efforts to boost their economies.
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.
He 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.
Obasanjo said: “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.”
He cited the example of 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 engage and strengthen both internal and external trading to quickly get out of recession.”
Obasanjo urged members of the National Assembly to make laws that would ensure that Nigeria increases its level of productivity and trading.