Nigeria has started a new business development frontier in partnership with some African countries to persuade Belarus investors to the continent.
This is coming on the heels of the consensus reached at the recent maiden forum on “Belarus-Africa: New Frontiers’’ held in Belarus.
The forum, organised by the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the Belarusian Government brought together government officials and businesses in Belarus and Africa to explore more opportunities on trade relations.
Dr Benedict Oramah, the President of Afreximbank, who set the tone of discussion at the forum, said that though the total African trade grew one trillion dollars in 2016, Africa had the potential to grow the trade volume exponentially in the next few years.
He said that economic prosperity of the continent was, in the main, being stifled by poor infrastructure, stressing that Africa needed 93 billion dollars annually in the next 10 years to bridge the infrastructure deficit.
“Africa needs equipment to build roads, bridges, hospitals, ports, power stations, et cetera,’’ he said.
Oramah said that the potential of the continent was derivable from its vast resources in land, agriculture, population, water and minerals.
“The size of the African economy at 2.5 trillion dollars ranks as the number 10 in the world and strong, averaging 4.2 per cent in the past 10 years.
“The population, at about 1.2 billion, is the third largest in the world.
“In addition, the continent boasts the youngest and most vibrant peoples with 40 per cent expected to be below the age of 30 by 2030.
“Africa faces deficits in production of major food crops from grains, meat, and tubers to fruits and vegetables, yet it boasts of 60 per cent of the world’s useable arable land.
“Some of you may not be aware that Africa is a very large continent, about three times the size of the U.S. and three times the size or Europe.
“The continent is awash with abundant ground and surface water with seven large rivers.
“The continent is also rich with imaginable metals and minerals,’’ he said.
Oramah said that to realise these abundant resources, there was the need for African countries to seek partners in the bid to transform these resources to wealth.
He said that Africa needed partners that could accompany the continent on the path of sustainable development, particularly which could share their experiences on how to rise from poverty and deprivation to wealth and prosperity.
Oramah, however, said that Africa did not need partners that would only be interested in selling consumption goods to it.
He identified Belarus in Eastern Europe as a young sovereign and developed country that could “walk the walk with Africa’’.
“My brothers and sisters, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we at Afreximbank are convinced that Belarus qualifies as such a partner.
“With factories churning out tonnes of large equipment and tractors, Belarus presents an immense opportunity to Africa as a source of affordable investment goods the continent needs for its development.
“Belarus expertise in mining and ICT fits squarely into the development needs of Africa.
“Belarus boasts of expertise to support Africa’ industrialisation drive and can be a market of semi-processed commodities.
“Together with Belarus, Africa can build viable supply chains drawing on comparative advantages and maximise opportunities.’’
Belarus is a small country of less than 10 million people in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) from where it gained independence in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union.