Bolaji Sofoluwe, ETK’s Group Managing Director, spoke to CNBC Africa’s Aby Agina on Africa’s business environment on Africa Day. The full interview is included in this article.
Last week, the continent commemorated Africa Day 2023 on 25th May, and the 60th Anniversary of the Africa Union, allowing us at ETK Group to reflect on the tremendous strides Africa has made. As a firm believer in Africa’s potential and despite the challenges we face, we are thrilled to share our optimistic perspective on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the exciting opportunities it presents for our continent’s future.
Africa’s progress in advancing the AfCFTA is truly commendable. Drawing parallels with the formation of the European Economic Community, we recognise the efficiency and integration Africa has demonstrated. For example, in February 2023, the continent attained a significant milestone as three key protocols were ratified under the AfCFTA, covering intellectual property, competition, and investment facilitation. This monumental achievement brings together 54 previously fragmented countries, highlighting our commitment to fostering unity and collaboration. And while immediate benefits may not be visible to all, it is crucial to acknowledge the substantial progress made from a trade policy perspective.
The AfCFTA has the potential to boost Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035, symbolizing significant growth opportunities. While it has been challenging to quantify informal intra-Africa trade flows, realizing this potential requires private sector-driven initiatives, policies effectively impacting businesses transaction by transaction, and entrepreneurs securing adequate financing for marketing and promotion.
As an active participant in promoting growth within African startups and working with entrepreneurs, ETK Group is particularly passionate about fostering intra-Africa trade. African businesses often face hurdles when marketing and promoting goods and services outside the continent due to associated costs. Comparing our marketing budgets to those of brands in countries like the UK, the Netherlands, or the US, we recognize the struggle African products encounter in sophisticated markets. However, by prioritizing intra-Africa trade, entrepreneurs can explore opportunities within the continent before venturing outside. Achieving horizontal and vertical growth across Africa will pave the way for genuine economic development.
Finally, while positive policy direction is essential, the ultimate responsibility lies with the people. Reflecting on the European Union’s success, we understand that it was the collective effort of activists, freedom fighters, parliamentarians, and politicians that paved the way for policies that benefited all. Similarly, we must all embrace and support these policies, enabling the trickle-down effects to materialize and witnessing the remarkable growth of our beloved continent. Undoubtedly, this is Africa’s decade, and ETK Group is thrilled to be part of this journey.
Together, let us seize this momentous opportunity, leverage the AfCFTA’s potential, and build a prosperous future for Africa.