Africa’s trade grew significantly as the world gradually recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is the word from, Professor Benedict Oramah, president and chairman of the board of African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), at the launch of the African Trade Report.

He adds that Africa showed resilience during the pandemic, contracting by only 1,6% in its first recession in 25 years and rebounding strongly, with GDP expanding by about 6,9% in 2021.

“African trade grew significantly just as the world was gradually recovering from the Covid19 pandemic,” he says, adding that intra-African trade was resilient, notwithstanding the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

Prof Oramah attributes Africa’s resilience to co-ordinated responses from governments, development finance institutions, multilaterals, including the IMF through its Rapid Credit Facility and Afreximbank through its Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA).

Dr Hippolyte Fofack, Afreximbank’s chief economist, notes that, despite the increasing resilience of African economies, the region remained a peripheral contributor to global trade and growth, accounting for 2,6% of global trade and less than 3% of the world’s GDP.

In order to increase its share of global growth and trade and to foster its integration into the global economy, Africa must use the AfCFTA, which has been touted as a game changer, to accelerate the process of structural transformation and growth, he quoted the report as recommending.

Professor Oramah says Africa also needs to develop sectors which had not been fully exploited, such as the creative and cultural industries (CCIs), as those were among the fastest growing in the world, generating $2,25-trillion (3% of global GDP), and employing more than 30-million people. They have the power to boost job creation and economic growth in the digitalisation era, even though they have only received limited attention.

Dr Fofack adds: “Leveraging Africa’s rich cultural heritage and the creative power of its youth can drive both cultural renaissance and economic transformations in the AfCFTA era where intellectual property rights will be sacrosanct. The CCIs have the power to boost economic growth and deepen economic integration by fuelling a cultural convergence.”

He says that CCIs are a growth industry in Africa, with Nollywood becoming the world’s second largest film producer and exporter and the African gaming industry projected to grow by 12% by 2025.

Globalisation and new technologies which have accelerated cultural interactions among countries, are set to further catalyse the growth of African CCIs at a time when digitalisation and the creative power of African youth are enabling the world to rediscover Africa’s rich cultural heritage and beauty.