One of the key topics of discussion at the 24th World Economic Forum on Africa was the issue of easing the movement of goods and services within Africa, and how critical it is for the continent’s progression. The event took place in Abuja, Nigeria from the 7th to the 9th of May, and was attended by Charles Brewer, MD of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa.
Quite simply, the need for free movement of talent and goods across the continent will strengthen business and boost intra-Africa trade.
“There was a collective consensus among African leaders on the topic of mobility in Africa, as well as the importance of efficient border and visa policies,” says Brewer. “We have seen good follow-up, particularly in East Africa, and it is imperative to continue to work on the border and customs environment to grow intra-Africa trade.”
A key view expressed by a number of African leaders was the need for a proactive approach to border management, which will enable trade between various regions. The creation of an environment that enables business growth on the continent, as opposed to obstructing it, was also addressed by various parties.
Recognising the importance of travel facilitation and talent mobility as drivers to integrate and develop the region, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, and Mali’s Prime Minister Moussa Mara signed The Call to Action on Travel Facilitation & Talent Mobility, which urges all African states to work together to establish joint policies and remove barriers to facilitate movement of people.
Brewer says it was positive to witness how small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly being recognised as the primary driver of economic growth in Africa, and how they are being supported. However, some of the obstacles SMEs face include infrastructure challenges and customs regulations and controls.
“The fact that world leaders have recognised these issues and have put actions in place towards easing these difficulties bodes well for future business development and success on the continent,” says Brewer.
Having entered Africa in 1978, DHL Express has witnessed the continent grow its economy to what it is today, as well as the evolving opportunities available to SME owners and entrepreneurs.
“Nigeria previously generated its wealth from the oil and gas industry, but today is a thriving economic hub of diversified sectors, such as finance, retail and telecommunications, as well as its rapidly growing film industry, Nollywood,” says Brewer. “The expanding sectors offer multiple opportunities to business owners looking to capitalise on the continent’s expansion and economic growth.”
Brewer points to the commitment made by the Chinese government to prioritise infrastructure development in Africa, which is necessary in order to develop connectivity and promote trade between various regions.
“Infrastructure is vital for connecting regions, and by improving this, the number of investments within Africa will grow exponentially, creating further opportunities for its people,” he says.
Brewer believes that in order to fuel the continent’s momentum, sustained trade from international markets, as well as intra-Africa trade is needed.
“If Africa is to compete with global, advanced countries, investment is needed to facilitate trade and ease of doing business,” he says.
DHL is a global market leader in the logistics industry, and commits its expertise in international express, air and ocean freight, road and rail transportation, contract logistics and international mail services to its customers.
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