The African Union (AU) plans to facilitate the improvement of the supply chain in Africa through the construction of industrial parks to improve the manufacturing of agricultural products, said a senior official of the AU Commission.
AU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Josefa Sacko said an initiative to improve cross-border trade has been approved and will be implemented.
The Commission supports the implementation of African Common Agricultural Parks (CAAP), the cross-border initiative focused on agro-food processing through small factories.
The AUC actively facilitates the provision and improvement of basic infrastructure to support the processing of exports in Africa, Sacko said during a virtual webinar on improving agricultural trade in Africa.
“We are motivated by the fact that the manufacturing sector is responsible for a lower share of African exports and a key driver of intra-African trade,” said the commissioner.
The average import account on the African continent has reached a total of $ 80 billion, growing by around 6% each year, said the commissioner whose portfolio also includes the blue economy and environment sustainability.
The AU Commission launched the framework to boost intra-African trade in agricultural products and services at a forum it hosted with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Fund (FAO) on April 17.
According to the AU, Africa’s food demand exceeds domestic supply by 20%.
The AU recommends that the continent take advantage of the rapidly growing intra-African market opportunities, with the agricultural sector in need of structural transformation that involves the shift from subsistence market-oriented production systems to ones that guarantee benefits for the most vulnerable. segments of the population. These include smallholder farmers, rural women and linking with farmers for regional and global value supply chains.
Sacko recognized the important role that the agricultural sector plays in Africa.
Agriculture is the dominant sector of the African economy, in terms of contribution to GDP growth, employment and trade, with African heads of state pledging to promote intra-African trade in products and agricultural services, markets and local, regional and international business opportunities.
African leaders pledged to triple, by 2025, intra-African trade in agricultural products and services, to create and improve policies and institutional conditions and food support systems, to simplify and formalize current trade practices , as well as to accelerate the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)and the transition to a common continental external tariff system (CET).
The AU Commissioner noted that market access remains a major challenge, both for intra- and extra-African trade, giving assurances that the African Union Commission has provided support in terms of strengthening the capacities of related bodies and chambers of the national private sector to respond to the opportunities offered in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreements.
“Africa’s trade is carried out largely by informal traders, which is a sign of institutional failure and a testament to the fact that there is a dearth of trade-related capacity in Africa.”
Sacko assured that the establishment of the AfCFTA further strengthens the gains to be made in terms of regional integration, by opening up new market opportunities for farmers and other economic operators.
Strong population growth, rapid urbanization and rising incomes will provide an opportunity not only to increase trade in agricultural food and non-food products and services, but also to increase food security in Africa, she said. declared.
“It is common knowledge that Africa is a region that imports foodstuffs, such as grains, meat, dairy products, fats, oils and sugar, as the continent’s food demand continues to exceed domestic supply. “
Meanwhile, the African Union Commission is developing a structure to stimulate intra-African trade in agricultural products and services that will guide Member States and partners in implementing the agricultural perspectives and opportunities offered by the agenda of the ZLECAF. (PANA / NAN)
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