African leaders must prioritise attracting investment to ECOWAS – Okonjo-Iweala

Onwubuke Melvin
Onwubuke Melvin

The Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has called on African leaders to attract investment, particularly in energy development, youth employment through agriculture and renewable energy, and infrastructural advancement.

This was disclosed by Okonjo-Iweala at the Economic Community of West African States Investment Forum 2024, organised by the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development in partnership with the Togolese government, held in Togo, according to The Punch.

According to Okonjo-Iweala, the ECOWAS region could attract investment despite economic challenges caused by global pandemics if it focuses on Regional integration through an African Continental Free Trade Area, Commercial Services, particularly Digital Services and a Youth based workforce.

She said ECOWAS countries account for 0.7 per cent of global trade, mainly focused on exporting raw materials, while Africa as a whole accounts for three per cent of global trade.

The WTO DG asserted, “African governments must work to reduce commercial costs within the ECOWAS region and improve physical and digital infrastructure.”

Meanwhile, the Executive Vice President at African Export-Import Bank Kanayo Awani, the persistent infrastructure deficit in Africa, which amounts to between $130 billion and $170 billion per year, or a 2 per cent of GDP, could be addressed, if the region pooled resources to create sustainable innovative financing mechanisms and regulatory frameworks to foster cooperation.

He stated, “Afrexim bank has implemented projects aimed at developing infrastructure: a 300-megawatt combined-cycle gas power plant in Senegal; a floating dry dock in the port of Takoradi, Ghana; a road linking Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal; and a complete LNG train in Nigeria.”

He pointed out that to strengthen the agricultural chain and generate employment, Africa had to attract investors in order to adopt new farming practices, implement smarter farming as well as improve training for those engaged in it.


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