AfCFTA:  Africa must stop importing automobiles – Bakary Koné

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Bakary Koné, director in charge of strategic planning, partnerships and resource mobilisation at African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), a specialized agency of the African Union, has said for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to succeed, Africa must stop importing automobiles, proposing instead; automobile manufacturers begin to assemble and ultimately manufacture the vehicles within the continent.

Bakary Koné, director in charge of strategic planning, partnerships and resource mobilisation at African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)

 

“One thing I find really important is if we want the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) to succeed, the idea of going to bring in goods to resell here is not sustainable – we have to fight for things to be produced here. We import millions of cars every year, how many of these are assembled here?” asked Koné who also heads ACBF’s regional office for west and central Africa.”

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“Nigeria alone imports more than half a million cars every year; why can’t we assemble them here so as to create job opportunities. How Korea, Japan and others did became car manufacturers? They started by assembling and so they understood the technology. Our strategy should be: if you want to qualify to trade in Africa, come and manufacture in Africa and then trade across the continent.”

Koné, who spoke shortly after chairing a panel session themed: ‘Entrepreneurship as a New Driving Force Connecting Africa and Korea’ at the Korea-Africa Business Forum, hosted on the side-lines of the just concluded 2019 Africa Industrialisation Week (AIW 2019), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, also urged African countries to develop a clearly defined and unified strategy for engaging in trade deals with world economic powers, so as to ensure their interests were well protected.

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“No country comes to Africa out of friendship; rather they come out of interest, so I think the onus lies on Africa to ensure we have a strategy for dealing with them. When they come to us they do so with a [clearly-defined] strategy for their own countries; we need to have a unified strategy for our own continent so that when we are engaging in this kinds of discussions we can see beyond what we are being told,” he said.

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Africa’s auto production only accounts for 1% of global output in 2018 – in comparison to South America’s 3%; North America’s 20%; Europe 23%; and Asia’s 50%. Tunisia, Nigeria, Algeria, Botswana, Egypt, Morocco, and South Africa constitute Africa’s insignificant auto production value chain. Consequently, the African Union’s Africa Industrialisation Week highlights the continued relevance of industrialisation including manufacturing and mining in Africa’s economic transformation and development agenda.

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