Okonjo-Iweala speaks on challenges facing Africa’s trade investment

Fri, Jan 21, 2022
By editor


By Kennedy Nnamani

NGOZI Okonjo-Iweala, the director general of World Trade Organization, WTO, has presented some of the major challenges confronted by trade investment in Africa. Okonjo-Iweala made this revelation during the second African Investment Conference, AIC, by the UK’s Department for International Trade, DIT, held virtually on Thursday, January 20.

While responding to the question on issues antagonizing the trade investment of the continent with about 20% of the world population, the WTO boss revealed that Africa’s share of UK trade investment has reduced from 2.4% (pre COVID-19) to 2.1% (post COVID-19).

“There is still quite a bit of work on that front but that is why this conference and this attempt to try and engage the private sector to invest on the continent”, Iweala said.

She also emphasized on the importance of a consistent sustainable infrastructure in Africa, noting that most of Africa’s infrastructures are yet to be built. “Two-third of the continent’s infrastructure is yet to be built, which is a big problem on the continent.

Also, Africa has a strong comparative in renewables so if you combine these two things it is the path to building sustainable infrastructure”, she said.

While speaking on the contribution of the WTO to the continent, she emphasized that the organization is strongly supporting the continent in building a strong and convenient economic environment.

According to her, “The WTO members have negotiated multilateral trade facilitation agreement that is designed to reduce trade cost which are extremely high and a problem for businesses on the continent estimating that the cost in tariff of the continent doubles that of the developed countries putting the business people on the continent at a disadvantage”

She also stated that the WTO is also negotiating an investment facilitation agreement having seen that the trade facilitation is really helping many countries to digitize trade costs.

The WTO director general also recalled the challenges that the continent faced and still faces in the time of pandemic like the COVID-19, where the continent still depends on foreign pharmaceutical companies for survival. She therefore called for youth development and that of the pharmaceutical industries in the African community.