By Fortune Abang
The Developing Organisation for Economic Cooperation (D-8), which is a group of mostly Muslim countries, has stressed the need for African member countries – Nigeria and Egypt to strengthen regional cooperation for faster economic growth.
Dr Ado Muhammad, Global Programme Director of D-8 Health and Social Protection Programme, stated this in a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja.
He spoke on the sidelines of the commemoration of the 23rd anniversary since the establishment of the D-8 on June 15, 1997.
D-8, also known as Developing-8, is an organisation for development cooperation among Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey.
According to him, the organisation will increase its trade volume by 20 per cent among the member countries.
Muhammad said: “The objective of the organisation is to uplift standard of living of human population in D-8 countries through trade, aviation, infrastructure, tourism, transportation, agriculture, education, ICT, health and social protection.
“This is particularly relevant to members of the bloc from the African region – Nigeria and Egypt because Africa has a huge population living below poverty lines.
“The D-8 cooperation promotes faster economic growth, rapid urbanisation, and increasingly open, pluralistic political systems.
“Clear efforts have been made to enhance the trade within the D-8, in order to develop member countries’ economy and empower them to participate actively in the globalisation process.”
He revealed that the level of trade growth among D-8 member states had been enormous since the inception of the organisation in 1997.
He explained that, as of 2006, the trade between the D-8 member states stood at 35 billion dollarsand recorded 49 per cent growth to 68 billion dollars in 2010.
“Following the success of multilateral investments in sectors, such as trade, agriculture, food security, energy, transportation and industrial cooperation trade has continued to grow steadily to 105 billion dollars in 2018.”
He listed Egypt and Nigeria to have accounted for 12 per cent of total trade in D-8, saying the organisation seeks to increase trade volume by 20 per cent by 2025.
He added that the organisation recognised links between poverty, health, and economic development, therefore established health and social protection programme (D-8 HSP) office, to address poverty and vulnerability in member countries.
Furthermore, he said that the third strategic pillar of the D-8 HSP programme was designed to unlock the market potentials of health sector within member countries.
“By creating an enabling environment for the private sector, addressing access to capital barriers and strengthening the regulatory role of government.
“This will improve trade volume in health-related sectors by promoting and supporting local vaccine production, effective supply chain management and knowledge sharing initiative among member countries on health-systems development.
“Both Egypt and Nigeria have a lot to gain from this initiative for different reasons; Egypt has a booming health sector that attracts a lot of medical tourism into the country.
“This will provide Egypt with an opportunity to expand in this sector. Nigeria will gain access to more affordable drugs and transfer of technical knowledge,’’ he added.
He noted that participation by African countries in the D-8 bloc would accelerate achievements of SDG 1, 2 and 3, and enable them adopt coherent national social-security strategies that include essential health care.
He said that it would help the member countries not only reduce poverty and inequality, but also gain access to diversified and new opportunities in trade relations for the region.