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GeneralLiberia news

Trade will boost Africa’s economy

--Speaker Koffa

Liberia’s House Speaker, Cllr. Fonati Koffa hopes that leaders on the African continent, which has 1.2 billion people, will begin taking concrete steps toward building a resilient economy instead of waiting for a perfect system to move beyond talk and commitment.

Monrovia, Liberia, 19 March 2024: Liberia’s House Speaker Cllr. Fonati Koffa has proposed that to boost Africa’s economic growth, the continent with 1.2 billion people should prioritize intra-trade and investments among its countries and people.

“We as leaders on the African continent need to not wait for a perfect system but move beyond talk and commitment to concrete first steps,” he said at the African Leadership Awards conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

He has also proposed that African leaders embrace open borders and a single currency and that the continent should depend on trade and not aid.

He further advocated for open borders, a single currency, and leveraging technology as key factors in promoting trade over aid on the continent.

At the 12th African Leadership Magazine Persons Of The Year Awards ceremony held in Addis Ababa on Friday, Cllr. Koffa submitted that for leaders to build resilient African economies, they need open borders, embrace, invest, and leverage technology, and move faster towards a single African currency.

According to Koffa, these measures would help create resilient African economies capable of adapting to challenges like climate change, global security concerns, and democratic setbacks.

He suggested that a borderless Africa, a single currency, and technology are needed to build resilient African economies that can anticipate crises, adjust, and learn from them.

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At the same time, he called for maintaining direction and momentum even if Africans had to change routes and do new things or old things in different ways.

To achieve these, Cllr. Koffa believes that the strategy of having regional currencies first before a continent-wide convergence seems logical.

“And I am sure there are good reasons for this approach, but it is simply too slow, and we are missing out on great opportunities,” the Speaker told the audience.

Koffa expressed concern over the slow pace of regional initiatives towards a single currency and stressed the need to accelerate progress to unlock economic opportunities.

His reservations about the slow pace of the regional single currency initiative, especially from the ECOWAS perspective, stem from the backdrop that the Western region of the continent has postponed five times the conversion to single currency.

“The bigger economies like Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and Ghana could not meet the inflation requirement,” he said.

“Nigeria, which will account for 65 percent of this conversion, has yet to own it and take leadership of it, and Francophone West Africa is still unwilling to relinquish its dependence on a colonial-era monetary system,” Koffa continued.

“But we must say a single African currency is indispensable in building resilient African economies.”

According to Speaker Koffa, without the need to buy foreign currency to trade with each other, Africans will travel around the continent more, buy more goods and services from each other, and boost internal tourism.

He highlighted the benefits of open borders in facilitating trade and fostering closer ties among African nations.

Though progress is being made in signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), experts say full benefits will not be reaped unless land borders are opened and intra-African trade is facilitated.

In the absence of open borders, the many horror stories from entrepreneurs who face endless demands for informal payments as they try to trade between our countries will continue to linger.

“We must continue our move towards open borders. Facilitating the free movement of goods and services across the continent cannot be overemphasized, and even ECOWAS is experiencing the benefits of that,” said Cllr. Koffa.

“We must turn to each other, trade with each other, and develop an African bond that makes us closer, in fact, and not just in theory. Open borders will do that.”

Cllr. Koffa was the winner of the African Leadership Magazine Persons Of The Year Awards last year. Held annually, the event brings together leaders from various sectors across Africa and focuses on discussing important issues related to the continent’s socio-economic growth and development.

It also celebrates individuals who embody people-centered leadership and promotes a pan-African agenda.

In his speech, Koffa underscored the role of technology in bridging infrastructure gaps and driving economic growth on the continent.

“I speak about my relationship with technology because technology is central to building resilient economies on the continent,” he said.

“Technology allows us to connect without roads, ports, and bridges. This means even without building a railway or paving a road from Cape Town to Cairo, an Egyptian can sell a service to someone in Johannesburg, accept payment without leaving their living room,” he noted.

The African Development Bank estimates the annual gap in Africa’s infrastructure investment spending is between USD 68 billion and USD 108 billion—a gap Koffa said Africans may never close unless technology is leveraged.

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One Comment

  1. I strongly agree Africa has been humiliated from the days of ‘once upon a time’ Its time for her to be regenerated, and thou shall rule the world

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