Trade not aid. It’s an idea we hear quite a bit in reference to Africa. Last summer, when Barack Obama addressed the African Union – the first US president to do so – he made sure to bring it up: “So many Africans have told me, we don’t want just aid, we want trade that fuels progress.”
And yet, while trade might be the gateway to development, the statistics in Africa aren’t too impressive, especially when it comes to one of the biggest opportunities for growth: trade among African countries. In 2014 in Europe, for example, 69% of exports were to other countries on the continent. In Asia, that figure stood at 52% and in North America at 50%. Africa had the lowest level of intra-regional trade, at just 18%.