Columnists Features

Africa should trade more with itself to grow

FROM time immemorial Africa has suffered at the hands of different continents that have continually abused both its people and resources in many ways. In the 18th and 19th century all but one of African countries were colonised by Europe.

During this period Africa’s children and resources were abused in ways that are not even imaginable.
From the early19th century, Africa fought a long battle to regain its political freedom until the 1980’s when the last colonised country got liberated. Sadly, however, even though Africa is politically free, we are still economically colonised as no economic decisions can be made without interference from the west.
The west has devised a new system of controlling Africa using multinational companies through economic colonisation.

Multi-national corporations have become the new colonial masters for Africa because they work against any government on the continent that makes decisions favouring its people in preference to them.
We have evidence of this economic patronage even here where mining companies are threating to pull out of the economy because our government decided to introduce a new mining tax regime to maximise our revenue from the mines. Such threats are not just common to our situation, as many other African countries are faced with them.
Multinational corporations use short-term effects of their withdrawal threats, like unemployment and currency depreciation, to manipulate governments to rescind laws that favour their countries. because of pressure from the people, governments usually U-turn on laws that are aimed at reaping favourable benefits for countries in the long term.
To some countries it’s even worse as the West even goes to the extent of issuing trade embargoes so as to ensure economic failure of such nations if their government cannot rescind their decisions. we have seen many people suffer without proper justification of such actions.
Many of our people have continued to live in poverty because of the way the West deals with Africa, yet we still look to them for solutions. I say it is time we stopped looking to economic colonialists to save Africa and started looking for answers to our problems from within ourselves.
Dambisa Moyo, in her book Dead Aid, makes a compelling case for a new approach in tackling Africa’s economic woes.  Her message is that Africa’s time is now; she insists that we need to assume full control over our economic and political destiny by grasping the available means and opportunities to improve the quality of our lives.
I say it is time that all African nations got united with the purpose to kick poverty out of our continent permanently by increasing intra-trade between African countries. There is need for different regional bodies like the Southern African Development Committee (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Commonwealth Countries and the African Union to encourage trade between African nations.
Apart from the existing ones, more free trade concessions within Africa need to be signed and their publicity should be paramount in order to increase inter-state trade in the continent.
African countries lose billions of dollars every year in payments for imports of different kinds of finished products from the west which are also produced and can be sourced cheaply from within Africa.
If these resources remained in Africa, the continent would have had a very vibrant manufacturing industry and thereby reduced unemployment and poverty levels. People in the West understand this fact. that’s why they have brought this “divide and rule” concept to Africa’s economic trade. many African countries conduct business with western countries and yet the former trade among themselves.
We should know that while we import from overseas, we are effectively shipping jobs to those continents we buy from and therefore should stop complaining of unemployment in our continent.
I would also like to appeal to the African Union, through its representative in Zambia, to submit the proposal of introducing one currency in Africa. This will result in increased trade within the continent and as a result boost our industries leading to the realisation of true pan-Africanism.
If this concept has worked well for continents like North America and Europe, we should then be confident that by employing it, Africa’s economy can enjoy similar benefits. God Bless Africa!
The author is a Christian humanism activist and a member of ZICA

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