My mother remembers clearly the day European nations came together to form a trade bloc! Take it or leave the issues that have followed, CNN, the BBC and any and all media with any balls are always on the ball and reporting every cough!!!
The conversations around the business opportunities that it opens up! Easy travel, one visa for all schengen States! A unified currency the Euro and what it means! Transportation opportunities, the revival of money markets etc… these are the conversations on every channel… and recently the infamous exit that is almost becoming the nonexit… well!
And then the Africa Continental Free Trade Area deal happened and there was deafening silence! I sat by my television all day and not a word about the opportunities, the journey, the risks. Could it be that 1.2 billion people do not matter at all in the world dynamics? Are we that irrelevant and insignificant?
But then this could not be! Because the news media is showing horrible images from the Congo and why the Ebola outbreak is even more deadly than what happened in west Africa a few years back! Plus other not so complimentary news
Our first President, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah had a dream of a United Africa and whiles the World thought they had finally gotten rid of him and anyone daring to even dream the subject, the dream came to past.
We still may not be speaking the same language, but nothing brings a people together more, in all of history, then trading together!
Remember that every colonial master invaded our territory on the guise of Trade! The Slave Trade, happened on the back of Trade of Gun powder and Liqueur for crying out loud and this is why trade between African nations is what the world is most scared of.
The UK is an important trading partner to Ghana with 60 plus million people… Nigeria which is only 45 minutes away is over 200million people… I won’t even mention Ethiopia almost 100Million? or Egypt or Morocco or South Africa.
Imagine this… Ghana is so similar to Nigeria and Cameroon and Liberia and Sierra Leone, that If I develop a solution that works for Ghana. Say something that deals with the elimination of plastic waste… who do you think will have better need for that solution. Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal or the UK?
And If I went on to set up my business In Nigeria, I am more likely to already understand the challenges I am likely to face even when it comes to Human Resources and bureaucracy then if I went to the UK! Plus I don’t have to prove that I have real estate on Mars to get the required visa etc to set up my business in Nigeria! In fact, the shoemaker could get on a train to go supply shoes in Abuja and come back the very next day! In the case that I or someone in Ghana needs to travel to handle an emergency crisis… will it be easier getting to Nigeria or Ivory Coast than if I had to get a visa to go to Spain or the United States?
If the Government and or the private sector made good investments in Education and for instance decided to make Ghana a health hub, which citizens of which countries do you think are more likely to send patients to Ghana to make it a worthwhile investment?
Nigeria doesn’t need our gold, it needs our solutions! We don’t need cocoa from Ivory Coast, they already have Cocoa, and so if we were to have a conversation with Ivory Coast, it will be about how we can add more value to the Cocoa that we both have and in the process, create more jobs for the many young people needing jobs in both Ivory Coast and Ghana!
To exchange the Cedi to Naira if I have to… it definitely will not be 1:5 as is the case of cedi to dollars now! Heck! Maybe I wouldn’t even need to change cedis into dollars that much anymore and so this might lead to the stabilization of the cedi!
It is now probably more difficult to travel to Tanzania than it is to travel to the States! Is this a business opportunity developing? Imagine if Africans are educated to appreciate, purchase and sell goods from Africa? There are presently more Lebanese products on the shelves of Ghana then even Ghanaian made items! Perhaps if business in Ghana suddenly had a bigger market, they could invest in better packaging?
I bet if there was a fast train between Ghana and Kenya, we could have young tech guys in Kenya coming to Ghana to engage with tech guys here and we will find that we already have so so much in common! Imagine that we suddenly shared wins more?
Let’s focus on the mobile money phenomenon developing on the continent for a second, which other continent can provide more opportunities for investments in this area then other African countries? We mainly all have the same dynamics that makes mobile money so successful here and this is opportunity for entrepreneurs right there! I could probably share money easily maybe with the market woman in Niger or Burkina? Perhaps those young tech gurus may develop an app that makes trade easier for the Togolese business man or woman coming into Ghana and getting onto another train to Cameroon?
Let’s see some examples! Maybe Leroy Cables can supply all of Africa cables and become a giant without digging out any bauxite! MTN, Dangote cement, Zenith Bank and now GCB bank May get to expand easily because and also become a Pan African bank?
How do you think that Nollywood became the second largest film industry in the world, even bigger than Hollywood? By selling to the world or by selling first to Africans?
Imagine that suddenly, it is not so hard to catch a ride to São Tomé for a holiday, if hotels in Ghana don’t bring down their prices!
With the right pricing strategy probably encouraged by market dynamics, Landlocked countries on the continent can come into Ghana to enjoy the beach side, increasing our Tourism numbers with no sweat!
With all this happening, it is very easy for me to even become an ex-pat in another African country ooo! Easily! So why will a young man go kill himself trying to get to Italy which is no better than Ghana in many ways?
Population of Africa – 1.216 billion
Resources in Africa – Africa has a large quantity of natural resources, including diamonds, sugar, salt, gold, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, silver, petroleum and cocoa beans, but also woods and tropical fruits, oil etc. to mention but a few:
Diamonds: Angola, Botswana, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo.
Gold: Benin, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Mali, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana
Nickel and Uranium: Burundi.
Pozzolana: Cape Verde.
Fish: Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritius, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles.
Iron Ore: Mauritania.
Phosphates: Western Sahara, Morocco.
Aluminium and Gas: Guinea, Mozambique.
Cooper: Uganda, Zambia.
Is there a good reason why a continent so rich should have so little of itself?
Did you know, that Sub-Saharan Africa has six of the world’s 10 fastest-growing economies
Oil and gas
Africa is home to five of the world’s top oil-producing countries, with an estimated 57 percent of Africa’s export earnings from hydrocarbons.
And this is why Africans need to take the ACFTA seriously!
By 2055, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to be more than double the 2015 total of 226 million!
Did you know for instance that: 12 million young people entered Africa’s labour force in 2015, but only 3.1 million jobs were created?
– UNDP report
In the same report, it says -So far, Africa seems to be sleepwalking into a future of lost opportunity and, potentially, serious instability. And Africa’s international partners have remained preoccupied with containing migration from the continent, rather than addressing its underlying causes…
The ACFTA is threat to the rest of the world, but opens up huge opportunities for Africa and Africans, especially at a time when other deals may be falling apart! Make no mistake, the world is not interested in helping us solve our problems, because then we will not need the world!
only Africans can solve the African problem! Let’s start by all learning about the deal and let’s talk about it and make it work for us… for once, can we let the world be spectators at our football match? Now football! That is something all of Africa enjoys together!
AND THIS IS THE VISION DR. KWAME NKRUMAH SAW
Juliet Yaa Asantewa Asante