Windhoek – Diversified United Kingdom-based Metrix Petroleum says the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) presents great opportunities for Africa’s development.
Matrix CEO Mr Malvin Chiwanga this week said their company was already present in South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and it was now expanding into Namibia and Tanzania through the linkages provided by AfCFTA.
“Intra-Africa trade is worrisomely low at the current moment, especially when it comes to oil and gas. The establishment of the African Free Continental Trade Area is a good start towards improving this. Estimates are that AfCFTA will create an African market of over a billion people and smoothen movement of goods and services.
“Perhaps what has dragged intra-Africa trade back is the fact that we are all resource-centred and we produce more or less the same commodities, hence we need to look at value addition. In terms of oil and gas, we need to look at potential to refine crude oil.
“For example in SADC you have a scenario where most SADC countries could just buy oil from Angola but the failure to add value has left this market acquiring further afield from other regions, mostly the Gulf,” Mr Chiwanga said.
Mr Chiwanga, a Zimbabwean-born businessman, said AfCFTA presented an opportunity to oil producing countries to venture into value addition and export across the continent.
“Efforts should be invested in the continent accruing full benefits of trading internally. It is also imperative that for this great initiative to succeed the continent should seriously look at issues of double taxation and very high customs charges among member states,” he added.
He pointed out that oil and gas possessed huge potential to transform African nations, using the example of Libya under Muammar Gaddafi.
“In that era, the World Bank showed that the standard of living for Libya was better than some European countries. The same oil that could develop the country has been turned into a curse that has ravaged Libya.”
Mr Chiwanga said African leaders needed to invest more than just political will in driving AfCFTA forward.
“Political will alone is not the only important investment needed from African. We need to invest in creating a doing business environment that encourages investment and value addition.”