In the 24th World Economic Forum that took place in Nigeria, the key topic discussion was the need for free movement of talent and goods across Africa. This sentiment has been echoed by Charles Brewer, MD of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa , who attended the forum.
“There was a collective consensus among African leaders on the topic of mobility in Africa, as well as the importance of efficient border and visa policies. We have seen good follow-up particularly in East Africa and it is imperative to continue to work on the border and customs environment to grow intra-Africa trade.” says Brewer.
He says that the forum took place against a backdrop of significant economic growth in Nigeria and that this has spurred investment interest in the country.
Recognizing the importance of travel facilitation and talent mobility as drivers to integrate and develop the region, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Prime Minister Moussa Mara of Mali have all signed The Call to Action on Travel Facilitation & Talent Mobility, which urges all African States to work together towards the establishment of joint policies and the removal of barriers to facilitate movement of people.
The DHL CEO added that it was also positive to witness how SME’s are increasingly being recognized as the primary driver of economic growth in Africa and how they are being supported across Africa
Having entered Africa in 1978, DHL Express has witnessed the continent grow its economy to what it is today, as well as the evolving opportunities available to SME owners and entrepreneurs.
With that said, Brewer says some of the challenges SMEs face include infrastructure challenges and customs regulations and controls.
“The fact that world leaders have recognized these issues and put actions in place towards easing the difficulties experienced can only bode well for future business development and success on the continent.”
He points to the commitment made by the Chinese Government to prioritize infrastructure development in African, which is necessary in order to develop connectivity and promote trade between various regions.
“If Africa is to compete with global, advanced countries, investment is needed in facilitating trade and the ease of doing business. We walk away from the meeting feeling positive, having witnessed various influential leaders from business, government, civil society and academia, all having similar views of facilitating trade on the continent,” concludes Brewer.