By Francois Baird
In the words of a recent guest column in The New Age, “Suddenly, everyone is in love with Africa.” We are inching closer and closer to realising the dream of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA), which will cover around 26 African countries and serve a market of approximately 700 million people. This trading bloc will open borders from Cape Town in the South to Cairo in the north.
The world’s eyes are transfixed on Africa – and no wonder! After all, it is all set to be one of the fastest growing regions in the coming years.
The move towards regional integration is good news for trade, for tourism and for the dream of making Africa more attractive for foreign investment. A couple of years ago, regional integration was identified as one of the ways in which to encourage foreign direct investment in African countries. The Baird’s CMC study, ‘Conversation Behind Closed Doors’, about the attitudes of American corporate executives about investment in the continent revealed that there are only three markets big enough to be attractive at the moment – Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa.Most of the other respected countries, like Mozambique and Botswana, are too small for the scale of investment that provides reasonable returns for multinationals.
So, we need integrated markets with streamlined border procedures, expediting safe, fast movement of people and goods. Which border post will be streamlined next?
To read the article in The New Age, please click here.