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Published On: Wed, Sep 23rd, 2020

How to unlock agric potential in Africa to promote intra-trade

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By John Chizoba Vincent

Africa intra-trade, which is also known as Intra-African Trade, according to United Nations Trade and Development or African Economic Outlook, is the average of intra-African exports and imports, and a key to sustainable development. It allows the spread of products across the continent for more trade between regions with large food demands. Intra-industry trade on the other hand refers to the exchange of similar products belonging to the same industry. The term is usually applied to international trade, where the same types of goods or services are both imported and exported. Examples of this kind of trade include automobiles, foodstuffs and beverages; and minerals.
Coming from an angle where we believe that not just leadership but the competent leadership is required to understand, formulate and implement the most suitable environment for trade policies for the masses who elected them; the next manifest is, what kind of knowledge, skills, talent, and competencies are required to bring successful governance to his people? We say a leader has a lot of roles to play for the betterment and upliftment of his people. Therefore, visionary leadership with an innovative approach is a key to promote a workable trade zone especially in Agriculture between his people and people from other countries. Leadership capable of developing focused policies that can identify and isolate those factors that constrain accomplishment of inclusive growth of trade between his country and other African countries; prepared to take the risk in investing in self-financing and social protection programs for vulnerable groups which also directly help in the development of agricultural practices in the country.
According to Bennis, vision is a mental image of a desirable future, so it is important that this future is perceived accurately, which needs visionary leadership. Scholars also highlight that the innovative approach of a leader can increase the chances of success for a leader to get his vision (Bass 1990). Recently, a Nigerian economist, Prof. Osita Ogbu of the University of Nigeria argued that Nigerian leaders should use smart subsidies to promote domestic skills and technological capacity in every sector of the economy and this directly helps in promoting intra-African trade.
However, the roles played by government’s policies and funding in fostering the advancement of Agriculture between countries when it comes to intra-African trade should be well investigated on the basis of its competences and characteristics to address and help different Trade issues, this will help to encourage farmers and the exportation of their products. African countries are grappling to undo a legacy dominated by trade with their former colonial rulers rather than with each other. Senegal’s biggest trading partner is France, while Gambia trades extensively with the UK. Although Senegal is proximate to Gambia, trade between the two neighbours is minimal.
The continent’s railways and roads often lead towards the ports rather than link countries across regions; reconnecting these railways and roads is key. On this ground, many leadership theories, policies, styles, and visions should be in such a way that it would be favourable to the farmers so that production of these Agricultural products can be within reach for easy exportation and importation.
As we have great potentials in the Agricultural sector, we also have great Challenges facing the sector.
Farmers are faced with various challenges from feeding an expanding global population all over the continent to meeting rising demands which are producing more foods on lesser acres to the detriment of using less productive land, producing high quality and bountiful yields, rearing healthy and numerous cattle, financial security, good education for the children and better home and life for all. Some of the challenges these farmers face presently are: Insufficient financial support, Lack of Information, Lapses encountered in farm practices, Access to Fertilizers, Market Access within the country and outside country, Transportation challenges and Language barrier, etc.
To promote African intra-trade to unlock agricultural potential in the Continent, the following approaches could be taken into consideration: the most effective ways to channel assistance to African countries, enabling them to develop export-related skills and infrastructure, and increase their competitiveness and boost regional trade. Investing in productive capacity, developing skills, and establishing links to new markets, embracing the global trade, structural transformation, and sustainable development. Because of hindrances to trade within Africa, exports from Tunisia and Cameroon often find their way to French warehouses before being redirected to each other’s market shelves, hence more open trade is necessary and engaging more to supporting and Nurturing the small-scale sector.
To meet the highly competitive and ever-changing environment of business and trends with the African markets, there is a continuous need for farmers to change their business model according to the trends, technologies, and future concerns. This demands the most conducive market place for farmer that is not only well capable to understand and analyze the current business needs but also prove effective and helpful to suggest the most suitable form of a change by using his/her vision and then implement this process by using his/her innovative approach to get that vision successfully, knowing the importance of Agriculture and Intra-African trade and accepting the key role leadership in change process to unlock African potential within the Continent.

John Chizoba Vincents is a Public Affairs Analyst.

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