Director General, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) Joseph Odumodu has said that Africa accounts for less than three percent of world trade and 10 percent of its intra-African trade.
Speaking recently in Lagos, Odumodu lamented the situation, saying that the development is unacceptable.
Odumodu who is also the President of Africa Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) said there is need for Africa to change its fortunes by encouraging more of intra-African trade which he said will help in job creation as well as reduce the rate of poverty within African countries.
“For example, Nigeria produces cocoa while in Cameroun, there is a company that processes cocoa into final chocolate so rather than Nigeria export cocoa butter or powder at $10 to the UK, you can sell to Cameroun and after little processing, they will export it. So, that way, Africa is creating job within Africa and also adding value to the product.
“Africa contribution of trade is less than three percent and it is not acceptable. We are over 30 to 40 percent of the world’s population and we are only contributing three percent. That tells you clearly why there is poverty, hunger, disease in our environment,
“But what we have seen is that there is little trade happening between African countries and the reason is obvious. From historical antecedents, we want to trade with UK, the point is Africans need to trade with each other,” he said.
He, however, noted that the Africa Union has started working towards having a continental free trade zone which will eliminate all artificial barriers and create equal opportunities for all business and trading partners on he continent.
“As President of Africa Organisation for Standardisation, we are also part of the process of negotiating this continental free trade area. We must harmonise our standards and technical regulations so that if I clear a product in Nigeria, it is as good as clearing it in South Africa because when you have a common market, it means when goods come there , they are in the same market, no more barrier,” he said.
By Pita Ochai