Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Friday advised African countries to increase trade among themselves in order to?speed up?the development and prosperity of the continent.
Fashola, who gave the advice while speaking at the 2012 Lagos Kuramo Conference at Victoria Island, said that the continent needed to look inwards for answers to some of its economic challenges.
The governor noted that most African countries preferred to do business with the West and Asia, saying the situation had not really helped the economic development of the continent.
“African countries need to trade with each other in order to optimally utilise the abundant natural resources on the continent and put her on the path of prosperity.
“Why can’t we encourage a policy to compel African countries to trade with one another in Zambian copper, Ghanaian cocoa, Cameroonian coffee, Malian cotton and of course, Nigerian oil?
“Why don't we promote the United States of Africa in trade? Why don't we support the idea of an Afro-zone?
“The integration of Africa in trade will, no doubt, impact positively on the economies of African countries.This is what we should be thinking about; it is good for our collective prosperity,'' he said.
Fashola said Africa was strategic to global economic development as its natural and human resources had over years, been used to drive the development of western economies.
The governor said it was time for Africa to exploit its resources to develop itself, charging leaders to create the right atmosphere for development on the continent.
Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, who chaired the conference, said the downturn in the economies of a number of developed countries should serve as an opportunity for Africa to develop its economy.
He urged leaders to address some of the factors responsible for the economic woes over the years and begin to reposition the continent for greatness.
Soyinka said if China was able transform its economy to become the second largest in the world, it was possible for Africa to do the same.
Also speaking, Dr Dambisa Moyo, an economist, expressed regret that Africa, with over one billion people, controlled only two per cent of the global economy.
She implored African leaders to begin to look for creative ways of solving the continent's age long challenges, saying corruption had to be confronted frontally if Africa must move forward.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lagos Court of Arbitration, which seeks to intervene in business and contractual disputes in the West African sub-region, was also inaugurated at the conference.
Mr Babajide Ogundipe, the president of the court, said the location of the court in Nigeria, particularly Lagos, would enhance the country's investment climate and fast track adjudication of commercial disputes.
The Lagos Kuramo conference is a biennial international summit of multi-disciplinary experts aimed at covering emerging legal and economic issues, address advocacy and policy required for shaping governmental decision making. (NAN)