Rwanda exported its first consignment of goods under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to Ghana on Friday September 30. The first consignment of coffee from Igire Coffee Limited was flown to Accra by the national carrier, RwandAir, marking the formal start of preferential trading under the AfCFTA agreement. A statement issued by the Ministry of Trade and Industry indicates that “the first AfCFTA Certificate of Origin for Rwanda was issued to Igire Coffee for coffee products destined to Ghana as part of the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative. This is the beginning of increased intra-Africa Trade.” Rwanda is among seven countries selected to participate in the pilot phase of the AfCFTA initiative on Guided Trade. Igire Coffee is a women-led coffee processing firm that deals in premium coffee and according to its president, Briggette Harrington, AfCFTA is enormously going to benefit Rwanda since it is designed to ensure Africa trades with each other. “We shall not continue relying on western countries that keep taking Africa’s raw materials and natural resources leaving the continent in destitute. We have to reverse this trend,” Harrington told The New Times. When she founded Igire Coffee, she started collecting coffee from women cooperatives, processing it and exporting it to Ghana. She ensured the proceeds come back to women farmers. “Western companies would come here, buy a kilo of coffee for, let's say, US$ 5. They take it, process it, package it and bring it back, selling it at US$ 45, yet the women who planted, tilted, washed and dried the coffee here did most of the work and got the least pay. This is what we have to change,” Harrington said. She gave an example of cocoa in Ghana, which up until recently, was only benefiting Western countries that processed it into chocolate but lately Africa has started processing it which has resulted in increased domestic revenues. With AfCFTA, traders are benefiting from reduced tariffs among members and covers policy areas such as trade facilitation and services. “We are going to be able to export processed goods. I am engaging authorities to also start exporting tea within Africa under the AfCFTA. I have also suggested to the National Agricultural Export Development Board to come up with a policy, by next year, of having at least 25 per cent of the exported coffee to be fully processed locally and this percentage to gradually increase with a target to have 80 per cent of Rwandan coffee processed locally,” Harrington said. Her suggestion is meant to have a balance of trade and change the paradigm of the value of the Rwandan franc and make it more valuable.