Intra-Africa trade is critical to keeping the continent’s economies stable

Certain parts of Africa are on lock down due to the Coronavirus, but trade of certain goods and services are still critical for the survival of the people of Africa.

One of the biggest issues that the continent faces is food security; availability of food, medical equipment and supplies. During the crisis lockdowns or limitations of movement, the availability of food and medical supplies becomes even more critical, which means that the production and trade of food and medical supplies, as well as the related raw material, needs to be high on the agenda.

We have seen panic buying across the world and the continent, that arose from the uncertainty about food availability and the availability of things like hand sanitizers. But, uncertainty can also catalyze a period of export restrictions, creating shortages on the global market.

In a joint statement by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Food and Agriculture organisation of the United Nations (FAO), there was a call for countries to balance the protection of their citizens with not disrupting any trade related activities for the food and medical supply chains.

We need to protect economies across the world, as much we are protecting citizens. Post-pandemic, what will happen to the citizens if their economies die?

The join statement said :
“We must also ensure that information on food-related trade measures, levels of food production, consumption and stocks, as well as on food prices, is available to all in real time. This reduces uncertainty and allows producers, consumers and traders to make informed decisions. Above all, it helps contain ‘panic buying’ and the hoarding of food and other essential items.

Now is the time to show solidarity, act responsibly and adhere to our common goal of enhancing food security, food safety and nutrition and improving the general welfare of people around the world. We must ensure that our response to COVID-19 does not unintentionally create unwarranted shortages of essential items and exacerbate hunger and malnutrition.”

PABWA calls on countries to plan for minimal disruption to their food and medical supply chains, and to ensure that their inter-Africa trade remains as optimal as possible, protecting the continent’s economy as much as there is protection of the people of Africa.

The effects of the virus are completely catastrophic as we watch the global body count rise daily. The deaths of economies of Africa will be just as catastrophic if we don’t equally balance citizen protection, the economy, and trade activities … or there will be nothing left for those who survive this crisis.