Are recent trade talks between Kenya and Nigeria a new dawn for Intra-African trade?

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Approximately one week ago, a delegation of high ranking government officials and business people from Nigeria were in Kenya on a three day trip to engage in talks with various government officials and private sector in the host nation.

The talks involved trade and business opportunities in sectors ranging from tourism to agriculture.

So far the biggest stories to come out the talks visit are an alleged commitment from the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote, to build a four hundred million dollar cement factory in Kenya and an announcement that the Kenyan government has allegedly ‘given’ Nigeria rights to drill 46 oil wells, within the country’s newly discovered fields in Turkana County, in order to benefit from the Nigerians’ experiences in oil production.

Historically trade amongst, Africa countries, especially those not in the same sub-region, has been virtually non-existent, partially due to the fact that most produced virtually the same commodities and had their infrastructure built to facilitate trade with European markets above all else.

  1. Does this visit, along with some of the ventures of South African, Nigerian and Kenyan corporates into other countries, amount to a sea change?
  2.  Is it the first step of tapping into a kind of trade that the rest of the world has benefitted so much from?
  3. If so, how does this play against already existing ties with nations in the west and China’s recent forays into natural resources and infrastructure.

Also, given the nature of the delegations (mostly wealthy business people), the lack actual details of what was agreed, and the bad reputations that both nations have in terms of corruption, are these deals being made in the interest of the nations or just a handful of powerful oligarchs?

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