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Two key things Africa needs to become competitive in trade

Africa has seen a spike in new enterprises especially startups that are producing innovative products and services to feed the underserved African market. Regardless of the positives in the last decade, Africa still lags in various areas.

Africansonchina caught up with Isaac Demuyakor, PhD, to discuss the theme “Unveiling the Symbiosis: African Startups and the Chinese Advantage”. During the discussion, Mr Demuyakor revealed many insightful things that are influencing trade between Africa and China. However, he added that Africa is not ready to match its major trade partners by meeting them at the halfway. He attributed the imbalanced trade relationships to a lack of a willing mindset and the requisite infrastructure.

So, we followed up to find out what Africa can do to turn things around for the continent’s growing population. In his response, Mr Demuyakor said, that turning things around for Africa in terms of value addition and cultivating a mindset that will ensure Africa has trade parity with China will require a political will and long-term planning.

He said while Africans can speak about their abundant natural resources, the laws governing trade in Africa do not do much for local businesses. He said nurturing a culture that is conscious of local businesses will be a starting point and that can be done through long-term policy decisions.

Giving examples he said, “If you come to China, it will be very difficult for the Chinese to deal with you if they are not part of it. It will be difficult for the Chinese to help you if they are not part of it. Because if they are not part of it, it means you are chopping them [taking advantage], they are on the table and you are chopping them. So, they want to be part so that you all eat the food together. And while you are eating the food together, they are learning from you in the discussion.”

According to him, for Africans to turn things around “there should be a long-term policy” that would be a guide for a period.  The policy he said should have action plans and support options that would empower local businesses. This kind of policy he said should be a priority for African Union. According to him, if such a policy is drafted by the African Union with unique inputs from the various national governments, it will be a blueprint to govern business support, incubation and promotion in the different African countries.

He added that Africa should not be more interested in developing novel concepts and ideas but in learning from what others have done. “You see all these Western countries and China, they also took something from each other but they fine-tuned it to become like their own,” buttressing the point that Africa should not shy away from picking what is good from those who have already achieved.

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