COVID-19: Obasanjo cautions Africa on agric-business, manufacturing sectors

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Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo has cautioned African countries not to allow agric-business and manufacturing sectors to degenerate as they battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

He gave the advice in the latest issue of ACCORD 2021 series of the COVID-19 Conflict and Resilience Monitor.

In a statement by his spokesman, Kehinde Akinyemi, on Sunday, the former leader urged the continent to find home-grown solutions to bounce back from the economic devastations caused by the crisis.

Obasanjo said if regions of the world that have been heavily infected and affected by COVID-19 are able to implement measures to recover, Africa must do the same by learning from their experience.

“Agri-business and manufacturing, by and large, have not been severely impacted upon by COVID-19. We must take advantage in parts of Africa, which enjoy good rainfalls, to ensure that we do not relax in our efforts to sustain our agri-business.

Obasanjo said COVID-19 has taught the world to be self-reliant in and nutrition and in essential agribusiness implements and domestic appliances.

“We must be able to feed ourselves. Africa should save $44 billion being spent on importation of food annually”, the ex-President added.

On trade, he stressed that the pandemic has only delayed, but not derailed the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Observing that COVID-19 has opened up opportunities to use online platforms and modern technologies to communicate, he said safety measures have restricted movement of goods and people, as well as physical and personal contact.

Obasanjo said the delay provides an opportunity to do the extra hard work that requires some time so that when AfCFTA goes into operation, it would be in full force.

“I genuinely believe that nothing will happen that would derail the full implementation of AfCFTA. If anything, Africa must use this situation to fully prepare itself for the operationalisation once most of these restrictions are lifted”, he counselled.

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