Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama has said fair trade between Africa and the rest of the world should replace the continent’s begging bowl. Addressing the United Nations (UN) General Assembly,  Dramani said Africa does not need aid or development assistance from developed countries but “a fair chance” to trade freely on an equal footing.

“Africa does not need your sympathy or Overseas Development Assistance. Africa needs a fair chance to trade with the rest of the world and amongst ourselves. The progress towards the creation of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is commendable and must be fast tracked”.

Dramani noted that the unfair practices and unequal business environment across the continent force young entrepreneurs to abandon their dreams and seek alternatives overseas.

“Some of the young Africans who hazard the desert and Mediterranean Sea to cross to Europe from my country are young poultry farmers or other entrepreneurs who sell their shops and undertake the journey because they can no longer compete with the tons of frozen chicken dumped on African markets annually, or the adverse business environment they have to face,” Dramani said.

“Those who lend us money are those who had colonized us before,…Under its current form, that is imperialism-controlled, debt is a cleverly managed re-conquest of Africa, aiming at subjugating its growth and development through foreign rules. Thus, each one of us becomes the financial slave, which is to say a true slave…” Thomas Sankara.

To address the flight of Africa’s bright and young minds, the Ghanaian President advised raising intra-African trade from the average of 15 per cent, which he says will create better opportunities for Africa’s youth.

The big picture is different from what is universally believed about aid to Africa
The big picture is different from what is universally believed about aid to Africa

While the continent can benefit from trade with the rest of the world, Dramani recommended that African countries collaborate and open up their borders to stimulate regional trade and investment

Read: Africans applaud Ghana’s visa-on-arrival policy

Recently Ghana opened up its borders allowing citizens of other African countries travelling to Ghana to obtain visas on arrival and Dramani said  this was done to stimulate trade and investment and Africa would benefit if it were replicated across the continent.

However, other countries have been slow in implementing the 30-day visa-on-arrival policy recommended by African Union’s (AU) 2063 Agenda, thereby delaying the exploitation of trade and investment opportunities.

According to the AU, Intra-African trade stands at only 13 percent compared to approximately 60 percent, 40 percent, 30 percent intra-regional trade achieved by Europe, North America and ASEAN respectively.

Intra-African trade is vital for African nations to benefit from the economies of scale offered by the huge African market. Trading within the continent would ensure that African countries are better insulated against global macroeconomic shocks and some of the protectionist trade policies.