The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) provides a large market for trade, investments, innovation, equal trade and economic transformation that could give the continent’s youth the needed jobs and opportunities but it would require the commitment of all, especially the private sector, according to Francis Mangeni, Head of Trade Promotion and Programmes at the AfCFTA Secretariat.
Addressing a webinar on AfCFTA organised by the Spain-Ghana Chamber of Commerce (SGCC), he indicated that Africans must trade, invest, innovate and own the single continental market and make it a channel of growth for their respective economies.
“Africa’s youth deserve decent jobs which could be derived from a structural transformation of the economy leveraging the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) but that would be possible if Africans, especially the private sector, are committed to drive it to success,” he said.
Mr. Mangeni is therefore calling for a strong partnership between the public and private sectors as well as academia that will birth practical mechanisms that will drive the nation’s AfCFTA journey.
Much as the focus is on building a common market for trade, Mangeni also prompted that member countries must equally pay critical attention to policies that would enhance industrialisation.
He noted: “AfCFTA must be transformative and functional; with strategies that tap into the large market to push industrialisation and one with all trade-related infrastructure in place to facilitate a working single market.”
Mr. Mangeni further said that a working single market must be innovative and also offer equal opportunities for trade giving priority to women, the youth and small and medium enterprises.
“Innovation will bring niche products and niche markets that can be tapped into,” he indicated.
He also called for a robust AfCFTA that ensures the full implementation and compliance to the laid down rules and regulations for trade relating to the market backed by a strong system for dispute settlement.
AfCFTA provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area, with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people, in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way for creating a Customs Union. It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent.