Implementation of African Continental Free Trade needs strong infrastructure

Africa Centre for International Trade and Development (ACINTaD) on Wednesday called for strong institutions and quality infrastructure to be put in place for successful implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Mr Isaac Hubert Arthur, the Executive Director of ACINTaD, said African countries must put in place the structures in order to derive the needed benefit from participating in the continental free trade area.

He explained that both soft and hard infrastructure such as national and regional policies, laws, systems, framework and quality road corridors, high speed rail networks, ports and harbours, and efficient air transport must be put in place.

Mr Arthur made these known in a release issued to the GNA from Niamey, Niger, where he contributed to discussion during the AfCFTA Civil Society Forum 2019, an event organized on the sidelines of an Extraordinary Summit of the African Union Heads of State held recently.

The Forum was organized by the African Union Commission in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa, on the theme, “Enhancing Civil Society Engagement in the AfCFTA to Broaden Inclusiveness.”

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.

Mr Arthur, who was speaking during a panel session on ‘Bringing the AfCFTA Closer to the African People’, emphasized 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.

According to him, governments must use a holistic approach in engaging all key stakeholders including CSOs, academic institutions, businesses, particularly SMEs, and relevant public sector organisations.

He said 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, commended the Department of Trade and Industry for the initiative.

He 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.

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, however, 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.

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