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The urgent need for Africa to focus on the economic returns of knowledge and the role of trade in the development process were highlighted yesterday as the book, Foundations of Structured Trade Finance, written by Dr. Benedict Oramah, was launched in Lagos, Nigeria.

Dr. Oramah, also President of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), told guests that it was the lack of appreciation of the power of knowledge that led to Africa being left behind in the race for development.

“While South East Asian economies realized back in the 1970s that it was a knowledge economy that could be trade–led and that it was a trade-led economy that could innovate and be competitive, African economies lost focus, consumed by commodity illusion and defensive import substitution strategies,” he lamented.

Consequently, Africa, which was well ahead of developing Asia, including China, in the 1960s and early 1970s in terms of per capita income, size of exports, share of global trade and economic growth rates, was swiftly overtaken by Asia in the 1980s, he pointed out.