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Resolving key challenges will unlock intra-African market potential- Olatunji



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The Managing Director of Access Bank Ghana, Olumide Olatunji,  has revealed that the continent must address the challenges that hinder its growth, to fully realize the potential of intra-African trade.

Olatunji stated this in the CNBC Africa Report tagged ‘Unleashing the Power of Intra-African Trade: A Path to Prosperity for West Africa’ seen by ThePressNG.

According to him, these challenges include inadequate infrastructure, such as roads, railways, and ports, which makes transportation of goods costly and inefficient; non-tariff barriers, such as complex customs procedures.

Other include regulatory hurdles that discourage trade; and limited access to finance, particularly for SMEs, which while being the backbone of our economies, face an annual trade finance gap of approximately $81 billion.

Olatunji noted that overcoming these challenges requires concerted action in both private and public sectors.

He noted that as African businesses continue to expand their reach across the continent, the role of trade finance is expected to grow even more significantly.

By providing the right funding at fair costs, trade finance empowers businesses to optimize their bottom line, contributing to the sustainable development of Africa’s burgeoning economies.

Olatunji said the expansion of African countries’ involvement in international trade and global value chains holds the promise of triggering a profound ripple effect, transforming economies, and alleviating poverty across the continent.

He noted, however, that the continent’s prosperity isn’t solely reliant on international value chains.

Olatunji said enhancing intra-African trade presents a multitude of benefits for the region adding that by reducing her reliance on external markets, “we fortify our resilience against global economic upheavals”.

According to him, it fosters the evolution of regional value chains, catalyzing heightened productivity and innovation.

This, in turn, fuels economic growth, and bolsters regional integration, nurturing a shared sense of unity and cooperation.

He noted that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), operational since January 2021, offers a glimpse into the potential transformational impact of a single continental market.