Engage Africa Policy

2069

AFRICA is the continent of the future and also described by the experts as the ‘lions on the move’ and this is the reason many countries including China, India, Turkey and the US are looking towards it for greater engagement and trade and investment opportunities. However, Pakistan which enjoys a great goodwill in the African countries for supporting their freedom movements and sending its peacekeepers under the UN umbrella, our trade with the continent is very negligible whilst our diplomatic presence is also limited only to a few countries.
This situation indeed warrants a paradigm shift in policy towards Africa. It was also in this backdrop that Institute of Strategic Studies marked Africa Day on Tuesday and held a roundtable discussion to explore ways and means to explore the potential of trade and economic partnership that exists between Pakistan and the African countries. It was pleasant to hear from Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that Pakistan and African countries need to have a more structured and result-oriented engagement to realize the full potential of the opportunities available. He said that a conference of African envoys to be participated both by the Pakistani envoys as well as the Africans will be organized in the federal capital after the UN General Assembly session in September. The moot indeed will provide an opportunity to both the sides to formulate a roadmap to take their relationship to the next level that sees greater cooperation in the areas of trade, economy and security. Pakistan is producing some state-of- the-art defence products besides surgical and textile items. Similarly our institutions such as NADRA which are already providing IT-related services to some African countries can further explore this cooperation. Time is ripe to grab this big market of one billion consumers who reportedly spend $ 600 billion yearly while its annual growth performance stands at an average level of five percent and has a rapidly developing middle class. As stated by international reports, primarily by the United Nations, investments realized and foreseen on raw material in leading African countries such as Tanzania, Zambia and Angola will contribute to the development of Africa to such an extent that seven of the ten most rapidly developing economic powers are expected to emerge from Africa over the next few years. Engagement is the only way through which we can take advantage of the opportunities cropping up in the continent. Adviser on Commerce Razaq Dawood has taken a very prudent and big decision of shifting the Commercial Consulars from Europe to Africa, and we expect that these Consulars who have so far failed to deliver will be given specific targets to bolster economic relationship with their respective countries. At the same time, engagements at the top level must also be started. Not only our Foreign Minister but Prime Minister Imran Khan should also pay visits to the African countries to really turn a new page in relationship with the continent.

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