Kudzanai Sharara in CAIRO, Egypt
African journalists are the custodians of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area and should close the narrative gap that exists in relaying the African story, a senior official with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has said.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is a free trade area founded in 2018, by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations.
Trade under AfCFTA commenced on the first of 1 January 2021 giving African countries an opportunity to bring 30 million people out of extreme poverty and to raise the incomes of 68 million others who live on less than $5,50 per day, according to the World Bank.
With AfCFTA, expectations are that participating countries will usher in deep reforms necessary to enhance long-term growth among themselves.
The reforms include measures that cut red tape and simplify customs procedures resulting billions of dollars in potential income gains.
For this to be accomplished, the media also has a role to play according to Dr Hippolyte Fofack, Chief Economist and Director of Research at the Afreximbank.
Speaking at a media workshop ahead of the Afreximbank Annual Meetings starting today in Cairo, Egypt, Dr Fofack said there currently exists a narrative gap of the African story where the very important role of AfCFTA and Afreximbank is not told.
He said there is need for African journalists to have their space in the global media space and capture the true African narrative.
There is need for us “to be reference points for African issues”.
The media is the custodian of AfCFTA, he said.
“I think that your job is the most important job to make sure that the African story is told by Africans,” said Dr Fofack.
He said the reason why there are high chances of selling a a product manufactured in France, China or UK, than one made in Africa is because of the narrative gap that exists.
He said the perception gap is affecting trade against African countries.
Turning to the Afreximbank, Dr Fofack said there is need to capacitate the bank so that it is able to support African economies.
“Its important that the bank (Afreximbank) becomes much stronger as a financial institution” in terms of its “capital base”.
Afreximbank must be a strong financial institution with a long capital base, he said.
“Long term capital is what we need for AfCFTA work.”
Dr Fofack said industrialisation requires patient capital hence the need for the bank to have a strong financial base.
He said with a strong bank in place, it will help in bringing to reality AfCFTA potential and making it “work for the Africa we want”.