“Trade can be an effective means to achieve development for African countries”

An Overview

Trade in Africa can play a huge role in opening up doors for real development to take place for Africa and it’s people; with most African countries not very big both in size and per capita income, trade is a key factor in Africa that can ensure economic viability and stability.

For most African countries trade is a means of poverty reduction and growth. They look at trade as something that helps significantly in enhancing their prospects for development on multiple fronts like health, education, social services, employability.

This is the idea you’d get with the recent endorsement of a plan to boost intra-African trade during the January 2012 African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government; where there’s been an effort to have combined economic might through partnerships and trade agreements so Africa can push for more funds for its development internationally.

Africa during the past decade has been performing strongly economically and has improved by leaps and bounds. Money coming into Africa is no longer about development aid, but it’s more about business.

A relatively higher trade-GDP ratio in Africa than in other countries has also positioned Africa to be able to draw enormous advantage through trade and countries in Africa have been conscious of the fact that there is no time better than now to draw upon this advantage.

Trade and a new age of growth for Africa and its people.

Along with trade comes expertise, development of human capital, technology transfer and entrepreneurial skills.
More importantly, comes an engaged and proactive civil society where more funds for key development challenges that Africa is facing are easily available for people who are willing to act.

With Africa falling a bit behind in development indicators; trade could be that well-needed boost that helps ensure that not only basic services are available to its people but also that it’s developmental issues are taken care of well by more funding being available on its own for developmental work.

Trade and Skills development

Trade has been contributing to an increase in specialized skills in African people in different sectors and domains to meet the needs of a growing Africa. This has never been the case before; when Africa has had to get people from other countries to make up for skill shortages; particularly in medical and teaching fields.

India’s scheme to offer duty-free access to Indian markets to 34 African countries as direct beneficiaries; has been a distinct example in this.

India’s increased trade partnership with Africa is not only creating an building infrastructure in Africa but is establishing institutions in Africa, which are, in turn, creating the skills and capacities Africa needs, including in areas like agriculture, food processing, textiles, small industries, etc.

What has also grown from an increased trade cooperation between India and Africa is significant investment and skills development on better education and healthcare in Africa and a setting up educational institutions.

There are more such capacity building opportunities on the anvil for Africa which have more or less piggy-backed on the buoyant trade partnerships that India and Africa have been able to develop.

Trade and Job Creation

Strong Trade can help create a lot of employment opportunities in the long run for Africa.

China, for example; has been one of the first examples in Africa one can give of that. China’s FDI in Sub- Saharan Africa alone has grown steadily and was close to 170 billion in 2013.

China has been a significant source of job creation in several countries in Africa, as companies have established operations they have made sure a lot of employment has been made possible, particularly in labor-intensive manufacturing, construction and export oriented businesses.

Trade is opening up Africa to the rest of the world

Trade with other countries is slowly making the world open up to Africa, as it’s giving countries an ability to understand Africa better. It’s giving them that confidence in dealing with Africa on various fronts; that had been so much missing before.

The more they are knowing about Africa and what it can bring for them; the more assured they’re getting about connecting with Africa.

With an increased understanding of the African continent through trade; is coming more understanding of its cultures, of its many problems and a vision to work on those many problems.

New ideas and technology

Trade will bring with it new ideas to approach developmental challenges; ideas on working on issues have been pretty much in a dormant stage in Africa so far and have been uni-dimensional.

Africa interacting with newer people from outside of Africa; through trade and development will help it get new ideas and create new possibilities.

It will bring more technology for instance which is a benchmark of real progress taking place.

Technology in health care, for instance, will help health service delivery enormously an area where most African countries have been found lacking.

With cell phone service providers setting up businesses in Africa; including even Airtel from India, there has been a dramatic increase in people using cell phones in Africa for health care purposes.

There has been a strong social mobilisation to use cell phones to disseminate and share public health messages among people. not everything needs to be consulted through a doctor anymore.

Health provision and development.

Health service provision is an important area that is critical to Africa’s development, with a growing population of its citizens having some serious disease or the other the productivity to work has seriously been affected.

A country’s development is so closely linked to how usefully its people perform, this has been an area of worry in Africa.

Increased trade would bring more money in the country and would let African countries develop good health programs, which could be further helped by social responsibility initiatives of organisations that would be willing to fund.

Having worked for the Ministry of Health in a Hospital in Namibia; I’ve been clearly able to see how this has worked. A Chinese company constructing the Hospital facility I was working in, put in significant amounts for the Hospital’s many development agendas on various instances. For example the community outreach program, the health clinics, the HIV-AIDS program.

To conclude, I would like to add that better trade has a potential for not only impacting economic capabilities in Africa but it also brings in add on advantages; in the form interactions to ideate and learn from; services to make use of for rounded development in Africa to take place.