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Former Botswana Trade Minister raises red flags on Africa trade agreements

Former Botswana Trade Minister and Special Advisor of UN Climate Change Champions, Bogolo Kenewendo, has raised concerns about the trade agreements between Africa and the Western world.

She, therefore, called for advocacy among Africans on the trade negotiations, lamenting the trade agreements that were “unfairly tailored” for Africans.

In an interview on The Point of View, Madam Bogolo Kenewendo emphasized the need for Africans to add value to the products they export to the Western world in order to generate higher incomes.

She believes that value-addition creates employment opportunities for the youth in the value chain and also offers benefits to economic systems.

“There’s still a little bit of unfairness in the way our trade agreements were tailored, and we need to change that. We need to advocate for ourselves and not just add value. Adding value is a step in the right direction to ensure that we capture more value, not only the more value that is captured.

There’s an opportunity that arises when you add value, as well as employment and an improvement in the balance of payments. All economic systems benefit from a strong and concerted effort on beneficiation. For example, cocoa that is raw or semi-processed can be transformed into chocolate, which commands a higher price.”

The former Botswana Trade Minister emphasized the need for investment in the trade sector, stressing the benefits that Africans can gain.

She also expressed confidence that Africa’s economies are likely to see massive transformation if investments are made in human capital.

“I’m confident that money is the pathway to Africa’s transformation. To get money, we need money to trade. There’s more money to be made when you go further up the value chain. There’s less money in selling raw materials, and the more value you add, the more money you can unlock in a product.

“I remain confident that the more we invest in this and in human capital, which can boost our ability to trade both goods and services, the more we will be able to transform our economies. I’m confident that if we work much more concertedly on the Africa free trade area and start trading among ourselves,” she opined.

Asked what can be done to improve intra-trade in Africa, she said, “First is the facilitators of trade, infrastructure, roads, trains that go from the North to the East to the West and so forth. But also our policies being friendlier. We must recognize that no one will be more successful than the other if we do not cooperate. We should be more accepting of each other. Intra-industry trade is the reason why the European market survived.”

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