Africa is a continent full of opportunities for growth. One of the vehicles to propel development in Africa is a robust manufacturing sector. An industry widely viewed as a path to economic growth on the continent. That’s why the African Continental Free Trade Area was launched in 2018. Manufacturing holds potential as Africa navigates the path to recovery post-pandemic. Experts project that the sector could hit 666.4 billion dollars by 2030. That’s over $200 billion more than it did in 2015.
On Business Africa, we speak exclusively to the President of MeTL Group to understand the opportunities within the sector in 2021 and beyond. Mohammed Dewji is Africa’s youngest billionaire. He said: ‘’ We need to do value addition. And by doing value addition, you don't use as much as foreign currency that you would otherwise use and also you would employ a lot of people. So I think manufacturing is the core, I mean, of importance for the African continent.’’
Trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area has kicked off. And Africa’s largest economy is planning a leading role in this $3.4 trillion market. Nigeria took a while to sign up to the agreement. But when it finally did, the most populous nation on the continent says it cannot afford to be left out.
Business Africa talks to a local Chief Economic Strategist on the West African nation’s preparedness to harness the dividends of this free trade zone. Professor Ken Ife at the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Nigeria said that: ''We are still the 8th largest producers of oil in the world and the biggest in Africa. There are 90 million SMEs (Small and Medium Scale Enterprises) in Africa, forty five (45) of those are in Nigeria. If Nigeria could have 50% of SMEs in Africa even though our population is just 18% and GDP is 18% of the whole of Africa’s GDP, it does tell you that entrepreneurship is a comparative advantage for Nigeria''.
And in the Republic of Congo, some relief for those who rely on electronic products to do business. Importation of computer equipment will now be free of taxes and duties. This means local students can purchase laptops at lower prices for example. It’s part of a move that Brazzaville hopes will boost its digital economy. But according to our Congolese correspondent, Cédric Sehossolo, importers say old stocks that were previously taxed, would first have to run out before this new law can impact on new imports.
"To be honest with you, I think it's a bit difficult at the moment as we're stocking up for three months, customers won't feel the difference at the moment, but within two months they will see the change and therefore prices will be lower on everything from laptops, tablets and smartphones especially'', an importer, Attieh Jaafar said.
''While the law on the importation of electronic items into the Republic of Congo is an exception in sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of basic infrastructure such as the provision of electricity, is still a problem in a country where only 9.7 percent of the population has access to the Internet'', Sehossolo reports.