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    Partner with Africa for information and education on trade development


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2004

    Thank you for the intellectual revelations Trade Forum has offered me. Most Africans' views on North-South relations, including trade, are anchored in the belief that colonialism was the major cause of African underdevelopment. But your publication reveals that not addressing supply-side constraints has been the major cause. Empirical evidence shows that some former colonies like India, Malaysia and Singapore are developing because of the commitment of their leadership to creating an enabling env

    The African problem is first one of knowledge and understanding and only then of lack of finance. Public-private partnerships can help create an environment that promotes enterpreneurship and imagination, and awareness of where the world is going - such as the importance of "e"-competency for development.

    UNDP, UNCTAD, WTO and ITC have roles to play in refocusing African countries' views regarding the development benefits of participating in the global trading system. This is important due to the resurgence of bilateral and regional trade agreements. Africa should be given more preferential attention because of its base-line economic development.

    Trade-related international organizations should partner with African governments, educational institutions, private-sector organizations like chambers of commerce, and groups and individual experts on global trade to disseminate trade development information, just as other international organizations disseminate information in their fields. This approach will educate Africans about trade opportunities (for example, in the services sector) and available technical cooperation programmes (such as ITC's poverty alleviation programme). As most Africans do not have Internet access, they cannot find this information from web sites.

    Africa should receive high premiums in making the strategic move from the global trade divide to the global trade dividend. Africa should be assisted to move from aid dependence to trade participation, as this approach will enhance its sustainable development.

    In the words of J. Denis Belisle, ITC's Executive Director, "To help these countries [including in Africa] develop the competitive export base they need, extending trade-related technical assistance to trade support institutions of the South can make a real difference" (in "What After Cancún?", Trade Forum 3/2003).

    Alphonsus Nwoye (alphonwoye@yahoo.com), Alpha Business World Ltd,Onitsha, Nigeria