African govts urged to diversify economies

African governments have been urged to focus on growing intra-African trade and diversifying their economies to stop reliance on commodities to reduce vulnerability to external shocks.

According to a statement from African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI), continued commodity price decline and current geopolitical uncertainties are also affecting trade on the continent. This was at the 17th annual general meeting of African Trade Insurance Agency in Nairobi, Kenya last week.

Speaking at the event, Benin President Patrice Talon and Henry Rotich, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury, said increased geopolitical uncertainties are a huge challenge for improved trade and growth.

They urged ATI to play a vital role in supporting Africa’s journey toward diversification, self-reliance and more sustainable growth.

In 2016, ATI facilitated financing of trade and investments in Kenya valued at close to $800 million which represents around 1.2 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The agency gave Ethiopia and Zimbabwe support worth $400 million for trade and investment.

“This is a very significant contribution to our economy. It demonstrates real benefit because these financial flows could not have been realised without the support of ATI,” noted Rotich in the statement. The meeting attracted leaders from the public and private sectors across Africa.

ATI, a pan African investment and credit risk insurer, also announced its 2016 results at the event indicating a 36 per cent increase in performance compared to 2015.

The agency attributed the success to stronger partnerships with African governments, “which increasingly see the value of ATI to their growth and development objectives”.