Africa Is Brimming with Opportunities

Published on 26th June 2023

At times, as a people, we choose to disregard the wonderful things that are taking place all around us and instead concentrate on the negatives.

In my humble opinion, despite the difficulties that we are experiencing as a nation and a continent, there are several things for which we ought to express gratitude and appreciation.

It has been 60 years since the founders of this continent met in Addis Ababa, to establish the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union. This year we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the AU under the theme, “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area to bring greater prosperity to the continent”.

The success of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) hinges on the continent's ability to improve and invest in its infrastructure in the areas such as electricity generation, transportation, as well as freight and logistics distribution.

We are of the firm belief that investing in infrastructure is crucial to unlocking the potential for Africa to experience a growth at faster rates but more important to ensure inclusive diversification.

This is because Africa's trade integration has been hampered for decades by the ageing infrastructure, and too many regulations which require reforms.

In this regard, we welcome the launch by The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) of the Africa Trade Gateway (ATG), a suite of five digital platforms providing critical services to support and promote African trade and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

We must surely invest in infrastructure because it is a critical driver of success across Africa. It makes a substantial contribution to human development and poverty alleviation.

As Africa, we are on the right path of development and towards one African market. As it stands, the AfCFTA agreement has effectively created the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating.

The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion.

It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty and 68 million Africans from moderate poverty.

The creation of the vast AfCFTA regional market is a major opportunity to help African countries diversify their exports, accelerate growth, and attract foreign direct investment.

Africa is brimming with opportunities, and we have what it takes to be great. We must dig into our continent's riches and turn difficulties into possibilities.

Africa has a lot of natural resources, which is good news for building value chains. Agriculture and the extraction industries are important parts of value chains at the national, regional, and worldwide levels.

Africa has 60 percent world’s uncultivated arable land. It makes up 13 percent of the world's oil. At least half of the world's diamond riches are also in Africa. Cobalt, nickel, lithium, manganese, uranium, and rare earth metals, which are important for clean energy and the future, are mostly found in Africa.

For example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo produces 58 percent of the world's cobalt, which is used to make electronics, and South Africa produced 69.6 percent of the world's platinum.

As I said at the start, it is easy to criticize and forget about all the opportunities and achievements we have made on the continent.

By Paul Mashatile

Deputy President of South Africa

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