The African Continent Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was launched in 2018 is currently in its operational phase and is soon set to commence implementation.
With the agreement, countries are pioneering the formation of a single African market consisting of the free movement of goods, people and capital, a total population of over one billion people with a combined GDP of more than USD 3 trillion.
Global Shapers from the Kigali Hub organised their last edition of ‘Twumve Twumve’ of 2019, generating look into making the most of the AfCFTA agreement.
A number of concerns in the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement emerged including non-tariff barriers, protectionism and how to best prepare as entrepreneurs and others involved to ensure the agreement is seen to fruition.
Therese Sekamana, the Chief Executive and Founder of LED Solutions and Green Energy Rwanda, said that the agreement is creating the largest trade area in the world which creates a myriad of opportunities for entrepreneurs across the continent.
Former Minister of Trade and Industry Francois Kanimba spoke on the hindrances to the success of the AfCFTA, noting non-tariff barriers as the most critical.
Non-tariff barriers consist of the infrastructural gap, which poses a major threat.
“A local entrepreneur, you might have a market for example, in Cameroon, but how do you deliver your goods there? You might sign a good trade agreement in Cameroon, but how do you take advantage of the agreement, if you cannot ship your goods there at a reasonable cost?” He said.
Other non-tariff barriers Kanimba stated comprise of unstable political climates within the region.
However, he noted that the excitement raised by national leaders to fast track this agreement, plays a vital role for the success of the AfCFTA.
With implementation set for June 2020, Therese Sekemana advised stakeholders not to focus greatly on the barriers and challenges but instead spend time getting to know what they (entrepreneurs, ) can do to leverage the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA.
Kanimba also challenged them on competitiveness noting that it is key to be relevant on the continental market.
“This looks into the quality of the products or services and the cost. You have to be innovative to be able to compete with other countries,” he said,