The President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote; and a former Governor of Cross River State, Donald Duke, have complained about the infrastructural deficit and policies that have created bottlenecks for trade among African countries.
In his remarks at the launch of a book authored by the President, Afreximbank, Dr. Benedict Oramah, in Lagos on Wednesday, Dangote observed that there had been a decline in the exportation of goods out of Africa between 2012 and 2015.
He said the lack of proper understanding of how African trade works, as well as frustrating trade and immigration policies were major problems.
According to him, it costs more to export to African countries than to send goods to countries outside the continent due to the presence of several borders where duties are expected to be paid.
Dangote added, “But the greatest problem that we have in Africa, which we don’t understand, is the intra-trade issue.
“We in Africa are making things difficult for ourselves. For example, today, it costs an average of 2.5 per cent to export outside Africa, but when exporting to another African country, the cost rises to about 13.3 per cent. This is making it difficult to do business. Today, in South America’s integrated market, the trade among them is 40 per cent and the one for the European Union is 60 per cent; but in Africa, it is 10 per cent.
“For someone like me who likes to invest here and there, I need 38 visas to enter 54 African countries. For a British person, he doesn’t need those visas.”
Duke said that the rejection of currencies of other African countries by their counterparts was hindering intra- continent trade.
“Common sense says birds of the same feather flock together. We ought to trade with each other. Currency is a problem. I should be able to buy pharmaceuticals in Ghana and pay in naira,” he stated.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Trade, Femi Edun, said there were plans to establish a testing laboratory for the Standards Organisation of Nigeria to test locally made products before exporting them.
Oramah said the book entitled: ‘Foundations of Structured Trade Finance’, was written to spread knowledge on structured trade finance in tertiary institutions, improve the quality of their Economics, Finance and Banking graduates, and make them employable.