Quality structures needed for successful Continental free trade
Adnan Adams Mohammed
Stakeholders are calling for strong institutions and quality infrastructure to be put in place for the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
These include both soft and hard structures (infrastructure and institutions) such as national and regional policies, laws, systems, framework and quality road corridors, high speed rail networks, ports and harbors, and efficient air transport must be put in place.
Many economists and trade experts have over the months urged African countries to put in place the structures in order to derive the needed benefit from participating in the continental free trade area.
“Governments must use a holistic approach in engaging all key stakeholders including CSOs, academic institutions, businesses, particularly SMEs, and relevant public sector organizations”, Mr Isaac Hubert Arthur, the Executive Director of Africa Centre for International Trade and Development (ACINTaD) speaking at the AfCFTA Civil Society Forum 2019 recently said.
During a panel session on ‘Bringing the AfCFTA Closer to the African People’, Mr Hubert noted that, the AfCFTA must benefit all Africans, hence the need to interrogate the best ways and measures to ensure that all Africans are made aware of the AfCFTA.
“Businesses should play the role of providing resources for advocacy, research, documentation and dissemination as well as capacity building for successful implementation of the AfCFTA.”
The AUC’s Deputy Chairperson, Mr Kwesi Quartey also speaking at the event commended the Department of Trade and Industry initiative and noted that, if successfully implemented, the AfCFTA could generate USD 6.7 trillion by 2030, accelerate industrial development, expand economic diversification, and facilitate quality job creation for Africans.
Again, Ms Thokozile Ruzvidzo, Speaking on behalf of the Executive Secretary of UNECA, Director of Gender, Poverty and Social Protection, said the AfCFTA could boost intra-African trade from its current level of 16 per cent to 52 per cent by 2022, according to UNECA studies.
She noted that visa and other immigration restrictions have constrained mobility within Africa and “increased the vulnerability of migrant and refugee populations on the continent,” the statement said.
The forum acknowledged the need for national policies to support production and consumption of goods and services that will be identifiable as being “Made in Africa” using quality standards, it added.
The purpose of the Civil Society Forum 2019 was, among others, to enhance stakeholder engagement on the implementation of the AfCFTA and increase participation opportunities for civil society stakeholders in the work program of the AfCFTA.
The Forum brought together participants from Africa Civil Society Organizations and umbrella Organizations on trade, labor, women and youth, members of African Union Economic, Social & Cultural Council (AU ECOSOCC), and many others.