Stimulating Intra-Africa Trade for Economic Growth Through Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Exploring the Lingering Barriers to Success

Authors : Olusegun Obasun

Volume/Issue : Volume 7 - 2022, Issue 12 - December

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The coronavirus pandemic's impact on infection and fatality has been much less than predicted for sub-Saharan Africa. The disruption of the global supply chains and weakening demand for its primary commodity exports to the rest of the world, much more impacted by the pandemic, led to 39 million people falling into poverty in 2020 and 2021 which worryingly reverses the long-term trend of reducing poverty (Munyati, 2022). Sub-Saharan Africa's economy grew by 4.5 per cent in 2021, signaling recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. As the world was slowly recovering from the coronavirus pandemic with the gradual rolling back of many life and business limiting restrictions and expectations of global economic growth, the global economy was plunged into a different crisis with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on 24 February 2022. The consequences of the invasion, which have been reverberating worldwide, are still unfolding. Russia is a major exporter of fertilizer, and Ukraine corn and sunflower oil. Before the war, African countries import 44 per cent of the wheat from Ukraine and Russia. Since the war began, the reduction in the supplies of these commodities has sharply driven up their prices. Fertilizer prices are now three times higher than in 2021, affecting crop production globally. Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer, and Russia and Ukraine are its top suppliers. Supply has ceased, and Egypt's reserves will only last for three months (WION, 2022). Experts say rising prices are set to stoke an inevitable rise in civil unrest in Egypt. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has made energy prices volatile for consumers and businesses, thus hurting households, businesses and entire economies severely, particularly in developing countries. According to a report released on 13 April 2022 by the UN on the Global Impact of war in Ukraine on food, energy and finance systems, 107 countries representing 1.7 billion people are severely exposed to the consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war and face rising food prices, rising energy prices and more challenging financial conditions. Sixty-eight countries, 25 of which are in Africa, face all three risks. Sub-Saharan Africa imports about 85per cent of its wheat directly from Ukraine and Russia. Africa is not feeding itself and is too dependent on countries outside the continent for its food imports. Africa is ranked the poorest continent in the world, with 478 million people living in extreme poverty in 2019. This figure has been estimated to increase to 490 million in 2021, aided by the Coronavirus-19. Africa particularly has a very young population in sub-Saharan Africa, with 70 per cent of the population below the age of 35 years, most of whom are twice likely going to reach adulthood jobless compared to the adult population. Africa's grim statistics show that 70 per cent of the youth live on less than US$2 daily. Women, who make up 70 per cent of informal cross-border traders, face serious challenges crossing the border, limiting their success


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