[Editorial] Free trade area Africa's only salvation

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) was adopted during the last African Union Summit.

The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) was adopted during the last African Union Summit.

It will bring together the fragmented three main organisations;the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African countries (Comesa), the East African Community and the Southern African Development community.

It is a combined market of over 1.2 billion people, the largest in the world but which, unfortunately has not transformed into intra-African trade as is the case of the European which is half of the market.

Sometime this month, the inaugural CFTA summit is scheduled to be held in Kigali which coincides with President Paul Kagame occupying the chairmanship of the AU.

A free trade area that encompasses the whole continent will be a milestone in an area that has a combined GDP of over $3 billion that is lying to waste.

Most African countries have been conditioned to depend on foreign aid yet they are the source of developed countries’ bouncing health. Is this now time for the sleeping giant to wake up? That will only be informed by the commitment of those who will attend the CFTA summit.

Africa leaders cannot afford to just meet, talk, go home and throw the signed agreements in the bottom drawer. It has to act and put aside the various foreign interests that have been calling the shots as people wallow in poverty.

It is an embarrassment, if not an affront its people, when an African country rich in resources goes around with a begging bowl as its riches are pilfered left right and centre. Those same resources could be used to strengthen intercontinental trade for the benefit of all.