London: Intra-African trade has the potential to deliver prosperity across the African continent, according to a whitepaper launched today by British Arab Commercial Bank (BACB). However, despite the continent’s impressive economic growth achieved in recent decades, trade flows between African nations have remained low and account for just under 17% of total trade volumes.
In the whitepaper, entitled Intra-African trade: a priority for Africa, the bank’s experts provide insights into why many African economies remain oriented towards exporting commodities and raw materials, and incline towards trading with Europe and Asia rather than with their immediate neighbours. The topic of intra-African trade is especially relevant in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), launched this year with the intention of creating the largest free trade area in the world by number of countries.
“Intra-African trade is a phenomenon with immense promise, and it will only continue to become more relevant in coming years,” comments Eddie Norton, BACB’s CEO. “Africa’s wealth of natural and human resources truly make it a continent of opportunity. This whitepaper not only demonstrates our expertise, built over decades of serving specialist markets, but also our enduring commitment towards the continent.”
“BACB is uniquely positioned to support the intra-Africa trade agenda,” adds Mike Rolfe, Head of Trade Finance. “As a bank dedicated to trade finance, headquartered in London but with representative offices in Algiers, Tripoli and Abidjan, we can combine our on-the-ground expertise and extensive regional network to promote trade within the continent in a way that few other institutions can.”
In the whitepaper, BACB also takes an in-depth look at trade flows in a series of country-focus pieces – examining the current state of intra-African trade integration in Libya, Algeria, Nigeria, Sudan, Mauritania and Cote d’Ivoire – and evaluating the prospects for the future. While significant obstacles to intra-African trade remain, the pandemic has given new momentum to the movement as African economies seek to become more self-reliant and resilient to external economic shocks.