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Can Africa trade with Africa?

Obiageli Ezekwesili's picture

Obiageli Ezekwesili chairs the seminar: Can Africa Trade with Africa? (Photo: Arne Hoel, The World Bank)

I chaired a very lively seminar on Friday afternoon that focused on the question, “Can Africa Trade with Africa?”  The answer was a resounding yes. 

Today, there is strong consensus among African leaders that regional integration is indispensable to unlock economies of scale and sharpen competitiveness. And promoting intra-African trade has emerged as a top priority, in recognition that the African market of one billion consumers can be a powerful engine for growth and employment.

Yet despite the introduction of free trade areas, customs unions, and common markets within the Region, the level of intra-African trade remains among the lowest in the world -- only about 10% of African trade is within the continent, compared to about 40% in North America and about 60% in Western Europe.

Still waiting for that new road to come your way?

Jan Walliser's picture

Anyone who has ever been to the Central African Republic (CAR) knows that the country has huge infrastructure needs after years of internal turmoil and strife. But when you look up how much of the government’s investment budget actually was implemented and financed infrastructure development in 2009 for instance, you find a stunningly low execution rate of 5 percent.

Infrastructure paramount issue for Africa

Vivien Foster's picture

Africa's Infrastructure: A Time for Transformation

Yesterday in New York I attended a discussion on infrastructure in Africa. As co-author of the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic, I've been talking with people for years about the importance of reliable infrastructure for economic and social activity in Africa. Today we're talking about how infrastructure can help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The core of the MDGs is poverty reduction and improved human development, but how can those goals be met without basic infrastructure to create economic opportunities and support public service delivery? This is a critical question when you think about the facts that 30 Sub-Saharan countries have a power supply crisis, their road freight moves as fast as a horse-drawn cart, and less than 5 percent of agricultural land is irrigated. Although Africa’s infrastructure needs may look daunting, countries like China have shown that it is possible to deliver on the requisite scale.

Gordon Brown hails education as the best anti-poverty program

Kavita Watsa's picture

World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Global Campaign for Education’s youngest 1GOAL ambassador Nthabiseng Tshabalala of South Africa.

This morning, 69 million children would not have gone to school around the world. And of those who did, many did not learn what they should have. It is a good thing that education has such energetic champions as Queen Rania of Jordan and Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, both of whom made strong statements today in New York in support of universal access to good-quality education.

“I have one goal—to advocate that every child receives a quality education,” said Queen Rania, who is the co-founder and co-chair of 1Goal , a campaign that was founded with the objective of ensuring that education for all would be a lasting impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Celebrating MDG successes

Kavita Watsa's picture

The Millennium Development Goals Awards ceremony last night in New York was a brief moment of celebration for the wonderful progress that some countries have made towards the goals. Even as we dwell this week on sobering statistics and the tough road ahead, these awards are an inspiring reminder that success is possible in the face of tremendous odds in poor countries.

Zoellick: End of the Third World?

Julia Ross's picture

April 14, 2010 - Washington DC - World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick speaks at Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC

Setting the scene for next week’s Spring Meetings, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said today the world has changed since the financial crisis, the third world is gone and we now live in a multipolar economy.

At Washington, D.C.’s Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Zoellick told an audience of diplomats, economists and international development specialists, “We are now in a new, fast-evolving, multipolar world economy, in which some developing countries are emerging as economic powers; others are moving towards becoming additional poles of growth, and some are struggling to attain their potential within this new system.”

“It is time we put old concepts of First and Third Worlds, leader and led, donor and supplicant behind us,” he said.

The speech drew several questions on the Bank’s response to the financial crisis and how it is helping developing countries adapt to the new global economy Zoellick described.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recaps the 2009 Annual Meetings

Sameer Vasta's picture

I'm back from Istanbul today, looking back at some of the important events and messages that came out of the 2009 Annual Meetings. Before we all left Istanbul, however, Alison caught up with World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and asked her to provide a short recap of the Meetings.

 

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