African Development Bank urges UK investors to 'ride the wave' of free trade area
JOHANNESBURG - Africa is on the cusp of unmatched economic transformation after launching its free trade area last year, and the United Kingdom must engage the continent in a "partnership of change", African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina has said.
Adesina told a symposium on the sidelines of a UK-Africa investment summit this week that the two should be significant trading partners, but the reality was that Britain's trade with Africa was trending downwards.
"From a $49 billion peak in 2012, trade decreased to $30.6 billion in 2018,” he noted, adding:
“The fact that we are having this conversation in the UK parliament is a great start. The convening of this summit by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is an even greater start."
Trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which represents a market of more than 1.3 billion people and a gross domestic product of US$2.5 trillion, making it the world’s largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization, is expected to start in July.
Adesina told a separate forum at the London summit that investing in quality and sustainable infrastructure could spur Africa’s economic transformation.
Investors who had tapped early into information and communications technology infrastructure in Africa had seen those investments become game changers for the continent, he said.
“Just under two decades ago, Africa had fewer telephones than Manhattan in New York. Today, Africa has over 440 million cell phone subscribers," said the AfDB chief.
"Returns on digital infrastructure are very high as the continent expands broadband infrastructure to boost connectivity and improve services."
- African News Agency (ANA)