The Angolan diplomat in the AU Commission made these remarks at the launch of the framework to boost intra-African trade in agricultural products and services, a forum organized by the African Union and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Fund (FAO).
According to her, the continent's demand for food exceeds the domestic supply by twentypercent (20%).
As such, the continent should take advantage of the fast-growing intra-African market opportunities, with the agriculture sector in need of a structural transformation that implies the shift from production systems focused on the subsistence market into others that guarantee benefits for the most vulnerable segments of the population, such as small farmers, rural women and the establishment of a linkage with farmers to the supply chains of regional andglobal value.
She recognized the important role the agricultural sector plays in Africa, as the dominant sectorof the economy, in terms of its contribution to GDP growth, employment and trade, with AfricanHeads of State pledging to promote intra-African trade in agricultural products and services,markets and local, regional and international trade opportunities.
To that end, they decided to treble, by the year 2025, intra-African trade in agricultural productsand services, to create and improve policies and institutional conditions and food supportsystems, to simplify and formalize current commercial practices, as well as, accelerating theestablishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the transition to acommon Continental External Tariff (CET) scheme.
Further, she noted that market access remains a key challenge, for both intra- and extra-Africantrade, assuring that the African Union Commission has supported in terms of capacity buildingof related bodies and chambers of the domestic private sector to appropriately respond to theopportunities 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 is a testament to the fact that there is a shortage of trade-related capacities in Africa”,lamented the AU Commissioner.
Still, she assured that the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)further reinforces the gains to be achieved in terms of regional integration, in opening up newmarket opportunities for farmers and other economic operators.High population growth, rapid urbanization and rising incomes will provide an opportunity notonly to increase trade in food and non-food agricultural products and services, but also toincrease food security in Africa, she said.
“It is common knowledge that Africa is a region that imports food, such as cereals, meat, dairyproducts, fats, oils and sugar, as the continent's demand for food continues to exceed domesticsupply”, said the AU Commissioner, DRABE.
She further advanced that the African Union Commission, under her coordination, is developinga structure to boost intra-African trade (BIAT) in agricultural commodities and services that willguide Member States and partners in advancing the implementation of the agriculturalperspectives and opportunities offered by AFCFTA agenda.
“Once again, motivated in part by the knowledge that the manufacturing is responsible for alower share of Africa's exports and a key driver of intra-African trade, I am pleased to report that the AUC is aggressively facilitating supply and improvement in basic infrastructure to supportexport processing in Africa. In this regard, the Commission is supporting the establishment ofAfrican Common Agricultural Parks (CAAPs), which is a cross-border initiative and, at aregional level, to be implemented in AU Member States with a focus on agro-processing andsmall-scale factories size”, she concluded.
Also in attendance in the virtual event that took place from 14 to 17 April, were Mr. WamkeleMene, Secretary-General of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, H.E. Mr. AlanKyeremanten, Minister for Trade & Industry of the Republic of Ghana, Mr. Abebe Haile Gabriel, the Assistant Director General for Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,Regional Office for Africa and Madame Elizabeth Nsimadala, President of the Pan AfricanFramers Organization (PAFO).