Marking Africa Industrialization Day, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Tuesday flagged the role that intra-African trade plays in achieving sustainable, inclusive and equitable growth in the continent, and called for its expansion by lowering trade constraints.
"African economies are among the fastest growing in the world, yet intra-regional trade accounts only for 10 per cent of the continent's commerce - significantly less than in other regions," Ban said in his message for the Day, the theme for which this year focuses on accelerating industrialization by boosting trade within the continent.
"Many constraints impede trade expansion in Africa: obsolete infrastructure, fragmented economic space, low production capacities, limited investment financing and high transaction costs," Ban added. "Eliminating these obstacles is a prerequisite to fully realizing Africa's economic potential and helping to address the continent's socioeconomic and developmental challenges."
The General Assembly proclaimed Nov 20 as Africa Industrialization Day in 1989 to mobilize the commitment of the international community to support industrial development in Africa.
Intra-African trade, Ban underlined in his message, can help free the continent from its reliance on international aid and improve its resilience to macroeconomic and other external shocks. In turn, industrialization can boost this type of trade by helping diversify exports.
In particular, he noted, the development of rural and food processing industries could help lift people from poverty. Facilitating trade however, requires the improvement of road, rail and other communications infrastructures.
"Industrial growth will require greater and more reliable supplies of energy. Improved energy infrastructure - including investments in renewable power generation and energy efficiency - would allow countries to produce more, and more competitively," Ban said.