Pakistani initiative “Engage Africa”
MANY of the most recent research studies, articles and reports from the World Bank and IMF clearly point to the economic ‘potential’ of the African continent and label it as a ‘survivor’ of the global economy and ‘survival’. Human in the future.
The total population of the African continent is approximately 1.32 billion, or 16.72% of the world population, made up of 54 countries.
Africa’s growth rate in 2020 was 3.9%, but parts of the African continent experienced much faster growth rates.
Emerging economies like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Benin, Uganda and Kenya are expected to grow by more than 6% in 2020 and these economies are also expected to maintain their growth rate over the course of the next five years according to the World Bank.
The African continent has unlimited “precious” natural reservoirs, hardworking “human capital” that suits geographies and, finally, carbonization reduction proposals that would be used for overall economic stability and sustainability around the world.
In addition, it is the hub of “strategic seaports” which is vital for the development of the blue economy.
This Africa / Look Africa / Connect Africa engagement initiative of the Government of Pakistan is of great “importance” which has “multiplier” socio-economic effects. Pakistani Prime Minister Khan’s “Engaging Africa” initiative is now making valuable inroads.
Pakistan intends to deepen, revive and strengthen its relations with Africa as a national priority.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi launched the Engage Africa Initiative in 2020 to build on existing relationships with African partners and open mutually beneficial avenues of collaboration.
In this regard, the Pak-Africa Trade Development Conference 2020 was held in Nairobi. In addition, a meeting of African envoys was organized with FM Qureshi in Islamabad in 2021.
Considering the potential and importance of the African continent, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi visited Africa with the aim of strengthening economic cooperation, trade ties and reaffirming important ties within the framework of the Pakistan’s political initiative “Look Africa”.
An Africa Fund has also been created. Pakistan has now entered Phases II and III for Africa, during which integrated activities relating to the expansion and strengthening of ties with the 54 partners will be launched. Links with the African Union and economic communities will also be encouraged.
Appointments of honorable consulates and strengthening of bilateral political and economic cooperation can be implemented as soon as possible.
In this regard, stronger links in education, science, academia, parliaments and connectivity could also be accelerated.
Pakistan is working to establish lasting diplomatic relations with African countries by launching a high-level campaign to expand trade relations with African countries, a sign of the country’s willingness to boost its stagnant exports beyond traditional markets. .
As part of the Look Africa Policy initiative, the Ministry of Commerce organized the Pakistan-Africa Trade Development Conference in Nairobi, Kenya, January 30-31, 2020.
It was the first of its kind, as more than two hundred delegates including officials and businessmen from 20 African countries, organized by Pakistani missions abroad, rigorously attended the conference.
South Africa, Pakistan, Kenya, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Niger, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Mauritius, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi participated in this conference.
In the past, the main reason for the low volume of trade had been Pakistan’s low level of engagement with Africa.
Now sincere efforts are being made to streamline ways and means to improve trade, expand banking and transport channels, improve engagement and connectivity, and remove tariff and non-tariff barriers with all African countries.
Pakistan’s trade with Africa remained stagnant at $ 3 billion per year from 2012-13 to 2016-17, and increased to $ 4.6 billion in 2018-19.
Pakistan’s share in the total trade of African countries is 0.4%. By 2019, the government relocated six trade sections from Europe to Africa, bringing the total number to ten, to cover Africa’s top ten economies.
Pakistan and Africa have maintained historic relations since the anti-colonial period as both states were British colonies.
After gaining independence, Pakistan provided material, ethical and emotional assistance to Algeria, Kenya, Sudan, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Morocco, Libya, Egypt and Nigeria.
Critical analysis of Pakistan’s economic ties with Africa confirms that Pakistan’s exports to Africa have been comparatively lower in textiles, leather, cotton and various fabrics.
Unfortunately, Pakistan’s presence and influence was limited to only 13 resident missions in 54 African countries.
It is estimated that Pakistan can double its trade with Africa in rice, engineering, food, electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals, sporting goods, surgical instruments and cutlery in Africa. over the next six years, which may increase the current annual trade volume by $ 4.28 billion. .
Pakistan is now expected to establish diplomatic relations with the 54 countries that can boost GDP from $ 2.4 trillion to $ 29 trillion.
As a leading regional geopolitical expert, I argue that Pakistan’s “Look Africa” political initiative would be a game-changer and fate in the days to come.
This would further strengthen economic cooperation, also create employment opportunities and reduce poverty.
Pakistan has now contacted the Southern African Customs Union, the Economic Community of West African States and the East African Community to discuss trade agreements and possible prospects that exist in under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
To complete the integration of Pakistan and Africa will hopefully establish a connectivity hub providing G2-G2 and B2-B2 to further strengthen bilateral relations
. The inclusion of the private sector will further consolidate Pakistan’s willingness to engage Africa. The role of the private sector is revolutionizing government efforts to connect with the African continent.
Pakistan can play a vital role in maintaining peace on the African continent through the UN.
Africa is moving slowly but surely towards greater economic integration through a number of sub-regional organizations.
As part of the “Look Africa Plan”, Pakistan is trying to negotiate preferential trade agreements with three African trading blocs.
These blocks include the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland; East African Community (EAC) comprising Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda; and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia , Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and the Togolese.
– The author is director, member of the council of experts in geopolitics / economics, CGSS.