Africa must reduce dependence on global North to progress —Kalu

Africa must reduce dependence on global North to progress —Kalu

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Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Honourable Benjamin Kalu, on Monday, said for Africa to overcome global economic challenges, the continent needs to reduce dependency on the global north, utilize foreign exchange judiciously, and implement robust industrial policies.

Kalu stated this in Abuja, while delivering a paper on Parliamentary Spotlight, at the 2024 Africa Economic Summit, themed: “Africa: Riding the crest of global economic and political volatility.”

To achieve this, he said that the continent should ride on the crest of the current global economic volatility to attain the inherent economic sovereignty.

Kalu, whose speech at the event was represented by chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Honourable Akin Rotimi, explained that the parliamentary spotlight explores how African nations, through their parliaments, can craft legislative solutions to navigate the current global complexities.

He opined that, in the face of intensifying global economic and political volatility, Africa must strive for a fairer and less exploitative international order and harness its own legislative prowess to ensure the continent’s prosperity, sovereignty, and economic resilience.

Referencing Morocco’s industrial policy, Kalu said that the country has shifted to focus on integrating into global value chains (GVCs) and gaining a competitive advantage in the automotive sector.

He said the Nigerian parliament will look into specific lawmaking approaches that can be adopted by the respective parliaments of African countries, including the African Union’s Pan-African Parliament.

Kalu said: “Countries reliant on imports from the global North face significant pressure to acquire large amounts of foreign currency to finance these imports. This often necessitates focusing on producing exports for Western markets or accruing external debt.

“However, the disparity in value between African exports and Western goods results in substantial net transfers of goods from Africa to the West (Europe & North America). This dynamic urgently needs to be addressed. This pattern of dependency on material and technical resources is further exacerbated by the ‘transfer problem,’ where African countries must continually earn foreign currency to facilitate these transactions.

“Our parliaments can curb this by, diversification of exports and trading partners, enacting policies to invest in domestic industries, promoting the export of higher-value manufactured goods, legislating for trade agreements with emerging economies in Latin America, and South-East Asia for fairer trade terms, negotiating favorable loan terms with international lenders and financial institutions through legislative advocacy.

“We can use platforms like the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to do this, the House of Representatives in Nigeria is an active participant in all IPU deliberations and engagements.

“Making strategic use of Foreign Exchange for National Development, Strategic utilization of foreign exchange for national development is crucial. To support this strategy, African parliaments can enact policies that prioritize the use of foreign exchange for essential imports and critical capital goods.

“Legislation can focus on developing national industries and enhancing domestic value-added capabilities. Establish Industrial Policy focused on well-being, Ecology, and Global Value-Chain (GVC) integration. To achieve this, African parliaments can enact legislation that prioritizes the development of industries critical to human well-being and ecological sustainability. Policies should support the growth of industries that integrate seamlessly with both domestic and global supply chains.”

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