Dar es Salaam: Poor market access for African products in the international markets is one of the reasons for poverty crippling the continent, former prime minister Frederick Sumaye said yesterday.??He said by selling unprocessed agricultural commodities and natural resources, many African countries have lost huge portion of their share in international trade.??He said when opening the first general assembly of ACT ?Alliance, a global church network working for humanitarian issues, at the Corridor Spring Hotel in Arusha.??
He said while the world trade and services has been increasing? by 6.7 per cent between the 1970s and the late 1990s,?Africa's share fell from about five to around 1.5 per cent.??The 48 least developed countries (LDCs), most of them in Africa, are even more affected losing about 80 per cent of their share of international trade in non-fuel commodities in the last 30 years and now account for only 0.5 per cent of world trade.??
"This means that those with resources and technology to value add to the natural resources and agricultural commodities will benefit more?than those who produce them,' he pointed out.??Mr Sumaye said most African economies continue to largely depend on agricultural commodities fetching dismal prices because of little?value addition. When turned into products, they are sold back to Africa at exorbitant prices.??The former premier said despite nearly two decades of economic reforms in the continent, policies in many African countries are still unfriendly to private sector development.??
In many countries, the private sector has not taken its rightful place in developing the economy. The private sector is complaining of unfriendly policies and little or no support,' he told about 200?delegates attending the conference.??He added that some foreign investors still considered investing in the continent risky and unstable while doing business in Africa is?considered to be expensive.
This is also a common complaint from the local/indigenous investors.??On lagging development, the former PM blamed corruption, saying the trend had hindered and undermined development in the continent.??
He added that some African leaders, individuals, governments and corporations have not been spared by bribery transactions involving?multinationals based in the developed world.??In 1999, the World Bank estimated that some $ 80 billion was spent as annual cost of bribery in transnational corporations in the US alone.??
The former PM also attributed the continent's poverty to lack of?competent technology, capital, incompetent production facilities and environmental degradation.??He challenged the African countries to strengthen their private sector so that its contribution to economic growth is fully realised.??
"The private sector in Africa is weak and very incompetent. It needs assistance in terms of resources, technology, capacity building and knowledge of the markets and marketing," he said.?