African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will strengthen and deepen fragmented African markets and benefit African producers and consumers, according to Hope Tumukunde Gasatura, Chair of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) of the African Union (AU).
PRC conducts the day-to-day business of the AU on behalf of its Assembly and Executive Council. All AU Member States are members of the PRC.
Tumukunde, who is also Rwanda’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti, as well as its Permanent Representative to AU and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. (UNECA), made the remarks on Saturday, during the opening of the PRC at the Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area on Tuesday in Kigali.
Without the AfCFTA and Africa’s economic integration, Tumukunde said: “Rhetoric about African unity will remain empty and undermine our credibility in the eyes of our citizens who would like to see tangible benefits flowing from the process of continental integration”.
The Free Trade Area is one of the flagship projects of the First Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063 and aims to deepen the integration process. It is being driven forward along with other key related initiatives such as the Single African Air Transport Market and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport, according to a statement from AU.
AfCFTA’s power for continent’s prosperity
By establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area, through a commercially meaningful package of agreements, Tumukunde said, Africa is now poised to attract investments from both within Africa and the world at large.
“Through this, Africa’s integration in trade terms can begin. Jobs would be created. Entrepreneurs will expand their businesses. African value chains will be developed and maintained, and those value chains will be linked to global value chains. Our young people will have genuine employment opportunities on the continent and no longer hunger for greener pastures in Europe or elsewhere because the greener pastures would be here,” pointing out that all the developments would contribute to the transformation of the continent.
She urged all of the Permanent Representatives to use their best efforts once the instruments are adopted by the Assembly, to ensure that the AfCFTA Agreement gets ratified as soon as possible so it can come into force without delay, and implementation can begin.
Meanwhile, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat arrived in Kigali, Rwanda, on Saturday, to take part in the African Union Extraordinary Summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area.
During his visit Mahamat will hold consultations with a number of Heads of State and Government on other important aspects of the African agenda, including peace and security and the institutional reform of the African Union.
Extending a warm welcome to African leaders and other participants ahead of the AU extraordinary Summit, Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Louise Mushikiwabo said through her twitter account that the coming into place of the African Continental Free Trade Area is cause for celebration, but not just yet; the tremendous economic benefits to our people will be worth a continental party! Hats off to President Issoufou of Niger, champion of the AfCFTA.”
The AfCFTA will bring together fifty-four African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion, and such a market creates opportunities for scale production for producers in the continent according to information from AU.