From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

Vice President, Kashim Shettima, has implored African leaders to work towards ramping up the total $3.1 trillion Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries on the continent, amounting to a paltry three percent of the overall global GDP.

According to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Communications (Office of the Vice President), Stanley Nkwocha, he gave the charge during the African Economy of Scale Plenary on the sidelines of the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, regretting that African trade was still hovering around three percent of world trade.

According to him, “The total Gross Domestic Product of African countries taken together is barely $3.1 Trillion, which is less than three percent of the world GDP.

“African trade still hovers at three percent of world trade. These indices must be reversed and ramped up. I believe this is one of the key concerns of Africa’s economy of scale.

“It must be borne in mind that African economies are still largely primary and basic in nature, with considerable dependencies on the global economy. Most countries on our continent are still known for their export of raw materials, minerals and food crops. African economies understand that we must begin to add value to primary products like cash crops, and step up to secondary and tertiary product manufacturing,” he stated.

In his brief remarks at the event which was held at Kurpark Village, Davos-Klosters, Shettima pointed out that it is for this reason that Africa is considered by top analysts all over the world as a growth economy in dire need of investments and infrastructure.

The Vice President, however, told African leaders that economies of scale portend the ability to do more by coming together and forming a more formidable unit, with a bigger voice and stronger negotiating abilities.

Shettima urged them to run faster and purposefully to catch up with the rest of the world in eradicating crass poverty on the continent, and prove that the continent could be a significant contributor to world productivity that can “integrate better with the rest of the world in an age when Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are redefining human interactions and existence.”

He added: “Size matters in negotiations and scalability. And African nations need more productivity to improve our people’s standards of living. We need more food, more affordable housing, a burgeoning textile sector to clothe our people, more energy/power, more social services for our poor and disempowered people, cheaper, better transportation systems. Our work is well cut out for us.

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“Pooling resources together as African nations allows us to cut the cost of producing many of those necessities for our peoples. We need to achieve higher levels of efficiency both in our public and private sectors.”

The Vice President noted that while African trade agreement is projected to boost the continent’s GDP by $450 billion in the next one decade, the urgency to actualise an African economy of scale is the reason behind the continent’s trade cooperation as demonstrated by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

He applauded the idea of economy of scale for Africa, describing it as timely considering the fact that the continent is seen as the last frontier for development, with many opportunities presenting themselves.

Shettima observed that the challenges dogging Africa in the face are not drawbacks, but opportunities for engagement, productivity and profitability, even as he pegged the continent’s infrastructure deficit at trillions of US Dollars.

Highlighting some of the deficit, he said: “Fifty one new housing units have to be built at the very minimum. We need schools, stadia, community centres, roads, rail networks, airports and water transport technology enablement and major interventions in the energy sector, among others.

“Viewed from space, Africa is still presented as the darkest continent. This narrative can be changed by a combination of efforts and deep collaborations among ourselves and the global community. I think that the greater challenge is within ourselves.

“The concept of Africa Economy of Scale is, therefore, a wakeup call to all of us here seated, to embrace a major leap of faith, away from the usual sordid monikers with which we have been identified, as a people and as a continent. There is a need to prepare a much better Africa for our children and those unborn. In an information age, we can no longer hoard information and set small dreams that will not impact our world.”

Shettima further acknowledged the efforts made by African youths in repositioning the continent, saying, “They have created major tech-driven private-sector organisations, some of which are unicorns, with over $1billion in terms of capitalisation.

“The Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS) is a product of the technological prowess of our young professionals, working within a larger organisational structure. In the creative and arts sectors, African youths are making a profound impact on and outside the continent. There has also been a major push in the outsourcing industry, for African youths to show more relevance by targeting remote work all over the world. The terrain is being redefined,” he added.