AU blames lack of information for low intra-Africa trade
Lack of information of market opportunities among traders across Africa is the biggest cause of low intra-Africa trade, the African Union said on Monday.
Albert Muchanga, the African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, told Xinhua in Nairobi that intra-Africa trade is less than 18 percent of Africa's total trade, which is the lowest for any region in the world. "We are therefore going to develop the pan-African observatory to provide the prices of most traded goods and services across Africa in order to spur intra-Africa trade," Muchanga said during the African Union e-commerce conference in Nairobi.
The objective of the three-day conference is to enhance the understanding of recent developments in the African digital economy. Muchanga said that with the right information, the continent will be able to boost intra-Africa trade by 50 percent in the short term and blamed import high tariffs that Africa countries maintain for the low level of intra-Africa trade.
"Our studies indicate that our tariffs are on average 6 percent higher as compared to other regions," he added. In a bid to spur intra-Africa trade, the continent has also signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Area that aims to eliminate all tariffs gradually.
So far six countries have ratified the agreement. A minimum of 24 nations are required to operationalize the trade pact. Muchanga said that the region will initially liberalize tariffs on 90 percent of all products while the remaining 10 percent of tariffs will be eliminated over the next ten years.