Sunday December 4, 2016 (MFA Press) – African countries must work at having a border-less continent to allow for increased movement of people and goods and hence more trade, Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amb. Amina Mohamed has said.

Speaking during the First African Investment and Business Forum, at the weekend in Algiers, CS Mohamed said African countries have to strike a balance between sovereignty and economic growth.

“We must deepen our own integration and not clink to sovereignty for sovereignty sake to close our borders,” Amb. Mohamed told the Algiers gathering.

She said the burning desire to forge deeper African integration was clear in our peoples’ resolve to succeed together, and to create a better future for all Africans, where no-one is left behind.

She decried the miserly intra-African Trade which currently stands at slightly over 10 per cent in comparison to North America and Western Europe whose intra-regional trade is at 40 per cent and 63 per cent respectively, as needing serious attention if Africa is to grow its economy.

She said Africa can rapidly increase intra-African trade and investment by; advancing infrastructure and seamless connectivity through air, road, rail and water, enacting policies that allow free movement of labour and goods across the continent and enabling dissemination of information and ideas to foster innovation and investment.

“To move forward, we need to make sacrifices. We have put in place cross border initiatives to ensure that formal and informal trade is fully facilitated and registered,” the CS said.

CS Mohamed hailed Algeria for hosting the very first African Investment and Business forum saying this was a reflection of collective responsibility and commitment to realise Africa’s full potential.

The theme: “Together for New Dynamics”, she said was a representative of our continuing consultation, cooperation and coordination towards the successful implementation of Africa’s blueprint – Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

She said traditional state policy and national governance modelled on a ‘Top-Down’ approach has been insufficient to address Africa’s requirements. Partnership between public and non-public institutions, especially private sector engagement has proved a vital component of Africa’s emergence as a global economic force.

She said the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) which brings together the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC) comprising of 26 countries with a population of 600 million and a GDP of USD 624 billion was one idea that was bound to fast track Africa’s economic growth.

CS Mohamed called on Africa governments to exploit the demographic dividend profited by the youth and loop them with the women of the continent in political, financial and economic affairs. This she said is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do.