Mauritius brought together the 54 African Union members in the African Economic Platform this past March. The African nation led the conference to promote their goals of increasing economic development through the continent. First, their course of action was to establish a free trade agreement. Second, was to establish a “Make Across Africa” motto to promote African goods. Lastly, they are hoping these will allow the rest of the nations to follow Mauritius’s suit by becoming nations that have achieved fiscal growth and also become important trade hubs.
Mauritius has emerged as a trailblazer among African nations as not only an economically successful country, but as one that holds great leadership in government office. Through that they have enacted policies that has allowed it to create a strong foundation for business and trade. Enterprise Mauritius has reported that the country has consecutively ranked first on the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance. Investment in Freeport facilities has created a trade path between Africa and Asia that previously did not exist. They further reported,
“In 2016, it has recorded a remarkable growth of 97% with re-export to 48 countries, including main products such as passenger transport vessels, electronic items, indentured ethyl alcohol, beauty/make-up preparations, cellular telephone, instant noodles, pasta, sugar, plain cotton weave and instructional charts. Our main traditional markets in Africa are South Africa, Kenya and Madagascar. New emerging markets within Africa includes South Sudan, Zambia, Swaziland, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Angola, Tanzania, Somalia, Ethiopia and Mozambique.”
What is AEP?
The sole purpose of the African Economic platform is “removing policy obstacles for doing business in Africa and advocate removal of barriers that hamper communication and flow of goods, people and services across continents.” Their goal is to see the fruition of a single African market, as trade within Africa is still staggeringly low compared to with other continents such as The US or Europe. It would be similar to the trade agreement in the EU in which goods could move freely through a “Continental Free Trade Area. “The president of Mauritius is calling for a “Make Across Africa” slogan to promote pride and confidence within African made products to trade between the AU nations. Similar to the “Made in USA” title, he hopes it will drive a sense of unity and support among consumers and create momentum. He even believes this will be the first step in getting African made products into Europe and The US. Although, before it can gain significant momentum, certain obstacles must be addressed. Lack of single African currency is of big concern to the AEP. Next, for goods to move freely there must be infrastructure in place to get goods to from nation to nation.
Mauritius has emerged as the trade leader of Africa and with the help of the AEP, they can not only further develop their nation but Africa as a whole. The AEP conference is meant to serve as an aide, a platform in which member nations can come together to create policy that serves each individual nation as well as the one they are doing trade with. This is the first step in creating the trade agreement needed to ensure the freedom to move goods across member nations and create a thriving single African market. That, along with increased trade with the rest of the world, will spur the economic development of a continent that desperately depends on it.