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WEF: Shettima urges African leaders to ramp up GDP

by Haruna Gimba

By Muhammad Amaan

The Vice President of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima, has implored African leaders to work towards ramping up the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the continent to 3.1 trillion dollars.

He noted that the total GDP of African countries taken together was barely 3.1 trillion dollars, which is less than 3 per cent of world GDP.

The Media Assistant to the Vice-President, Mr Stanley Nkwocha, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said Shettima made the call at the African Economy of Scale Plenary during the on-going World Economic Forums (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

The Vice-President regretted that African trade was still hovering around three per cent of world trade.

“African trade still hovers at 3 per cent of world trade. These indices must be reversed and ramped up. I believe this is one of the key concerns of Africa Economy of Scale.

“It must be borne in mind that African economies are still largely primary and basic in nature, with considerable dependencies on the global economy.

“Most countries on our continent are still known for their export of raw materials, minerals and food crops.

“African economies understand that we must begin to add value to primary products like cash crops and step up to secondary and tertiary product manufacturing.”

While delivering his brief remark at the event which was held at Kurpark Village, Davos-Klosters, Shettima said Africa was a growth economy in dire need of investments and infrastructure.

He, however, told African leaders that “economies of scale portend the ability to do more by coming together and form a more formidable unit, with a bigger voice and stronger negotiating abilities.”

Vice President Shettima also urged them to run faster and purposefully to catch up with the rest of the world in eradicating poverty on the continent, adding that they must prove that the continent could be a significant contributor to world productivity.

He also emphasised the need for the African leaders to prove to the world that they could integrate better with the rest of the world in an age when Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are redefining human interactions and existence.

“Size matters in negotiations and scalability. And African nations need more productivity to improve our people’s standards of living. We need more food, more affordable housing, a burgeoning textile sector to clothe our people.

“We also need more energy/power, social services for our poor and disempowered people, cheaper, better transportation systems. Our work is well cut out for us.

“Pooling resources together as African nations allows us to cut cost of producing many of those necessities for our peoples. We need to achieve higher levels of efficiency both in our public and private sectors.”

Senator Shettima noted that African trade agreement was projected to boost the continent’s GDP by 450 billion dollars in the next one decade.

He said the urgency to actualise an African economy of scale was the reason behind the continent’s trade cooperation as demonstrated by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

He applauded the idea of economy of scale for Africa, describing it as timely considering the fact that the continent is seen as the last frontier for development, with many opportunities presenting themselves.

Shettima observed that the challenges dogging Africa in the face are not drawbacks, but opportunities for engagement, productivity and profitability.

The vice-president pegged the continent’s infrastructure deficit at trillions of US dollars.

Highlighting some of the deficit, he said, “51 new housing units have to be built in the very minimum.

“We need schools, stadia, community centres, roads, rail networks, airports and water transport, technology enablement and major interventions in the energy sector, among others.

“Viewed from space, Africa still presents as the darkest continent. This narrative can be changed by a combination of efforts and deep collaborations among ourselves and the global community.

“The greater challenge is within ourselves. The concept of Africa Economy of Scale is therefore a wakeup call to all of us here seated, to embrace a major leap of faith.

“This is away from the usual sordid monikers with which we have been identified, as a people and as a continent.

“There is a need to prepare a much better Africa for our children and those unborn. In an Information Age, we can no longer hoard information and set small dreams that will not impact our world.”

Shettima acknowledged the efforts made by African youths in repositioning the continent.

“The youth have created major tech-driven private-sector organisations, some of which are unicorns – with over 1 billion dollars in terms of capitalisation.

“The Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS) is a product of the technological prowess of our young professionals, working within larger organizational structure.

“In the creatives and arts sectors, African youths are making profound impact on and outside the continent.

“There has also been a major push in the outsourcing industry, for African youths to show more relevance by targeting remote work all over the world. The terrain is being redefined.”

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