To promote intraregional trade, African countries should stop producing the same goods and move towards producing complementary products, Sandra Chihaka from the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority has said.
Speaking to delegates at the ongoing World Customs Organisation (WCO) East and Southern Africa (ESA) Conference, Chihaka noted that Africa needs to diversify the types of goods and services traded within the region.
The World Customs Organisation conference kicked off in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi on Thursday, November 23rd, 2017. The event has brought together delegates from Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe among other countries.
The event comes at a time when intra-regional trade between the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has grown threefold over the past decade.
A 2015 report from research group, Trade Mark East Africa found that the combined intra-trade of the three regional economic communities grew from $30 billion to $102.6 billion in roughly 10 years.
Though this is an improvement, experts across the continent say more can be done to up these numbers.
Following Chihaka’s address, Kenya’s Revenue Authority, along with its regional counterparts, has advocated for stronger adoption of e-commerce and cross border trade across the continent.
“We need to strengthen small scale farmers’ associations to enable them to present their issues in a structured way and get what’s due to them,” said Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Director, Constantine Kandie.
She echoed Chihaka’s call to action, urging regional stakeholders to work towards creating stronger multilateral ties in East and Southern Africa.
“There’s an immediate need for African governments to have a collaborative relationship with the private sector. It’s time for us to work together,” said Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Vice Chairman, James Mureu.