Private Sector players are optimistic of the positive results that could come with the ready-to-be-adopted Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) deal.
According to the business community, African countries agreeing on the highly anticipated intra-Africa trade regime will go a long way in positioning Africa as one of the biggest markets, consequently inspiring innovation, industrialisation and growth.
Ali Mufuruki, Tanzanian businessman and founder of Infotech Investment Group, said one of the reasons he is excited about the Continental Free Trade Area is that it will not only open trade borders for Africans making mobility less expensive, but it will also restore African “dignity.”
“As a businessperson, there is nothing that frustrates me like traveling across Africa. It is extremely expensive and difficult; it takes a long time, you need visas and when you get to the border you are told to wait and you see people from Europe and Asia being waived through like they live there. It is so sad.
‘‘But to get into the country and I am being valued and I am appreciated simply because I am African, makes my life happier. I think that is one reason I am very happy about this single market framework,” Mufuruki said.
There had been some uncertainty as to whether the Continental Free Trade Area would be signed in Kigali. Nigeria, one of Africa’s biggest economies, had pulled out of the agreement with President Muhammadu Buhari saying they wanted more time to “widen and deepen” consultations.
However, Mufuruki said that that shouldn’t be an issue insisting countries will join the free African market sooner than later.
He added that the most exciting part of the deal is that a critical mass of countries are in agreement with CFTA.
He noted that of more negotiations on some details of CFTA framework would enable states to perfect the document.
According to Mufuruki, more than 20 countries are signing with another 30 countries support the signing today.
Earlier yesterday, Mufuruki appeared on one of the panel discussions where he said: “You can eat from free trade but you definitely can’t eat sovereignty.”
“Each country has to give up a bit of things they hold so dear to share the control of their borders and collect mass customs together.”
Moroccan investor and Chairperson of Morocco Private Sector Confederation, Miriem Bensaleh-Chaqroun, said that with the Continental Free Trade Area, “My investments are bound to expand to different parts of the continent and this is surely an exciting time to do business in Africa”.
Linda Ndungutse, the founder of Haute Baso, a local clothing brand, said that the reduction of trade barriers within the African market will lessen the cost of doing business for young entrepreneurs while widening their consumer market.
Patrick Nsenga Buchana, the Chief Executive Officer of AC Group – the brains behind the smart technology in public transport payment model (Tap and Go) that operates in Rwanda and Cameroon – said that the need to grow opportunities across borders and give young African companies the scale to compete on the global market is also a unique opportunity that the continental free trade market presents.