Students from several universities in the country Sunday convened at Kigali Independent University (ULK) to debate on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The debate was organised by African Rebirth, an initiative started by Enoch Tumwine that started the inter-University debates.
“When you look at Africa, in general, there is enormous potential to get one to the top but at the same time you find it disturbing why we (the youth) don’t live to maximize our true potential.
So I found out that the problem lies in the mindset and the sooner we work on it the better,” said Tumwine.
Thus the birth of the African rebirth—a platform that discusses the best of Africa and find solutions to the challenges.
Speaking with confidence from the affirmative side, Beny Grace Bimenyimana from the University of Kigali, said that the impetus towards closer economic integration is poised to change Africa forever and that the entry into force of the AfCFTA is a truly momentous event.
Africa is now the torch-bearer of multilateralism and open economies, AfCTA in its effects, will harmonize the regional economy hence boosting individual states’ economies, said Bimenyimana.
This, she backed up with an example that individual countries who have been promoting various sectors such as industrialisation, which she said will have a higher purchasing power, and markets.
But Honorine Umutoni from ULK, said African countries should first embrace local ownership, and then find solutions amongst themselves.
“Local ownership is the most important of all, this doesn’t mean that countries should not be open-minded to others but there is absolutely need to own the process,” she noted.
Umutoni added that, a nation should join more forces to promote homegrown solutions other than expect to lend ears to neighbours who might possibly have no political will.
Umutoni believes that AfCFTA will not be feasible until Africa witnesses effective leadership credentials, who will lead their countries to transformational governance,
For Uwera Lydia, a student at Kepler University, she singled out that the single market will boost importation and exportation in individual states, saying that annually the GDP has been growing at 1%, yet again in effect with the bloc, the GDP will boost by 6% per year,
Therefore, she added that, this will enhance competitiveness for scale production and innovation to be able to make the most out of the agreement, rather than focus on what is missing like infrastructure high ways, seam fewer borders, among others.
Don de dieu Igiraneza also of ULK, believes that AfCFTA covers goods and services and has complementary programs for infrastructure, industrialization, agriculture modernization, small scale trade, as well as innovation, intellectual property, competition and investment.
“Africa can’t claim to be totally liberated without achieving economic independence. Being totally liberated means not only achieving political freedom and independence but also attaining economic development for Africans,” he said, quoting Charles Kayonga, Rwanda’s former Ambassador to China.
The AfCFTA, that is expected to be the largest free trade area in the world, was launched in July 7, 2019 in a ceremony held in Niamey, Niger attended by many African Heads of State.