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WTO Chief Urges Politicians and Business to Find Partnerships that Show Africa as the Best Place to Invest 

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first African director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and former two-term finance minister of Nigeria believes the major threats are deep, structural, and mostly internal to the continent. In an interview with African Business she says, “The lack of value added to our products is also a threat to increased trade. 63% of the exports of the continent are still primary commodities [unprocessed raw materials] and it is a threat if we cannot transform those primary commodities into finished goods so we can really trade these things among ourselves.” Okonjo-Iweala, 68, highlights the barriers many African businesses have accessing trade finance. “We need to look at the trade finance gap, which is estimated by some to be $80bn [in Africa]. Those who want to trade – small and medium enterprises, big enterprises, cannot access the finance they need to really trade.” Okonjo-Iweala says that many minerals in Africa have not yet been discovered and that the continent could be an even more powerful force in the move to a sustainable global economy than expected. African countries should make this case when trying to take advantage of the green transition, she says.