Obaseki to African Leaders: Devolve more powers to Sub-nationals to boost Intra-African Trade
By Isaac Aimurie, Henry Oqua, Tunde Tee Olatunji and Nosa Agbonigiarhuoyi
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has urged African leaders to devolve more powers to sub-national governments and invest more in infrastructure to boost trade figures among African countries.
Obaseki, who spoke at the second African Sub-sovereign Governments Network (AFSNET) conference in Abuja, on Friday, September 30, 2022, maintained that intra-African trade levels would also increase if capacity building is given more attention within the continent.
According to the Governor, technical skills and capacities, the devolution of more powers to sub-nationals where trade actually occurs and production of goods that are competitive in the market will address some of the economic challenges.
He asked leaders at the event organized by the Afreximbank in collaboration with the Secretariat of AfCFTA and the Nigeria Governors’ Forum: “Why is it that almost after 60 years, we are not seeing the level of intra-continental trade that we should? While we are dealing with the technical issues, we should also look at how you devolve more powers, more authorities, from the center to the sub-nationals.
“How do you devolve power from the sub-nationals to businesses and individuals within communities?”
Obaseki proffered: “For trade to occur on the continent, two things need to happen. First, we need to produce, production occurs at the state level. The states, sub-nationals have to ensure that they create the environment for production to occur.
“For production to occur, you need to provide things like infrastructure, the right policies and the environment, because as governments, we have to deal with business people on a daily basis, particularly small businesses. How do you ensure that you give them permits, how do you ensure that you understand the challenges they are facing; how do you make sure that governments are not excessively oppressive and inhibit the trading activities?”
He added: “The second point I want to make is that even when you produce, you have to produce competitively, because there are people bringing in products from other parts of the world; and if these products come in cheaper than what you are producing in your domain, then your citizens will go for the cheaper goods from the outside environment rather than buying goods produced within.”