The ever-increasing poverty and high unemployment rate must awaken African leaders to work toward increasing the continent’s share of world trade, Chairman of the World Trade Centre (WTC) Accra, Togbe Afede XIV has said.

Commenting on the low level of trade among African countries compared with the rest of the world, the astute entrepreneur decried that the situation is so when there is enormous potential for the continent to deepen trade ties and make it prosperous.

“We have been concerned, just like many of you are, about the level of poverty and unemployment in Africa – and these two issues are paradoxes considering the amount of resources Africa commands. And secondly, the fact that there is so much to do in Africa. When there is so much to do, we do not see why there should be unemployment.

“Africa accounts for about 30 percent of all known mineral reserves of the world; we account for 20 percent of the world’s landmarks. Sadly, we account for about 2 percent of world trade and about 2 percent of total GDP – and that is really sad. We need to increase our share of world trade and global GDP.  The question is: why should we account for so little when the potential is so huge?

“We believe that one answer to our problems is more trade among African countries. Of the total African external trade, only about 18 percent is among African countries. Juxtaposing that against the statistics for Asia, which is 59 percent, and against that of Europe at 69 percent tells a very sad story. So, Europeans and Asians are trading far more among themselves than we are,” he said.

Togbe Afede XIV was speaking at a meeting organised in Accra by WTC Accra that brought together representatives of African Diplomatic Corps themed ‘Regional Integration: Role of the African Diplomatic Corps’.

He called on the African Diplomatic Corps to use their influence to convince governments of their countries to set up World Trade Centre offices, which he believes have the potential to deepen and promote trade in Africa.

“We believe that our friends in the diplomatic community can be a channel through which we can express our concerns to governments. At the WTC-Accra, we believe that one way of promoting intra-Africa trade is to expand the concept of World Trade Centre to other African countries. So, for instance, if WTC-Accra is able to collaborate with WTC in say Nigeria, Angola, Zimbabwe among others, then we can provide that network or platform which can further the course of intra-Africa trade,” he said.

Managing Director of WTC-Accra, Jane Reindorf-Attoh, also threw more light on the importance of convening the meeting and the role African diplomats must play in realising the African dream.

“We work primarily with the private sector to enable them via trade missions to other countries to look for partnerships, trade and investment opportunities; and we also receive incoming trade missions of the private sector from other countries that want to do business in Ghana.

“The African diplomats also have a role to play when it comes to promoting trade and investment. This is the second time we are meeting. The emphasis of this meeting and subsequent meetings is that actions will be developed, and then we can monitor our implementation.

“At this stage we are putting our structure in place. Some of the issues have been raised, and so the next step is for us to develop concrete actions to address some of the challenges and then to monitor our implementation,” she said.