The African Business Council has acknowledged that the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area presents enormous business opportunities for the Pan-African Private Sector, Small and Medium Enterprises, Women and Youths as the continent takes this bold move towards boosting intra-African trade.
This was contained in a statement made available to our correspondent by the AfBC, which gave its support to the initiative.
Recall that the African Continental Free Trade Area officially took off on January 1,2021.
This agreement aims to create a single market of over 1.2 billion people, which will open up markets with a combined GDP of $3 trillion, half of which is controlled by the continent’s biggest economies, South Africa, Egypt, and Nigeria. Note that Nigeria controls almost 75 per cent of the ECOWAS sub-region’s GDP.
The AfBC noted that the launch of start of trading on the basis of the AfCFTA followed the African Union Assembly decision made on 5th December 2020 at the 13th Extra Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on the AfCFTA.
While it commended the political leaders for their decision on opening the ECOWAS corridor for business opportunities, it also highlighted the AfCFTA as an opportunity for the Pan-African Private Sector to build Africa through manufacturing, distribution, transportation, health eco-systems, among others.
“The AfCFTA gives us an opportunity to drive our agenda. For many years, the African business community has been individualistic in driving the continent’s agenda.
“It is an opportunity for us as the African Business Council to come together and support the implementation of the AfCFTA. We are a united voice, and we can do this together”, Dr. Amany Asfour, Interim Chair Person of the African Business Council said.
Dr. Ahmed Mansur, Interim Vice-Chair Person of the African Business Council also said, “It is a new year, and new opportunities are emerging. As manufacturers, traders, farmers, transporters, shippers, Women Business Associations and Youths, here is our time.
“Let us go out there and grab the opportunities. It is time to feed Africa through agriculture, manufacturing and promoting value chains. It is only through a united voice that we can have transformation in Africa.”
On her own part, Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, Secretary General of the United Nations equally commended the new initiative, noting that barriers to trade among African countries would have been eliminated.
She said, “The proliferation of Non-Tariff Barriers in Africa has often hindered intra-Africa trade. It is difficult to move cargo among African countries, and the online system on the Monitoring, Reporting and Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers (www.tradebarriers.africa) will assist in the implementation of the AfCFTA.”
The President and Chair of AFREXIMBANK, Prof. Benedict Oramah, said the African Export and Import Bank “is ready to support the implementation of the AfCFTA, through the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS). The PAPSS is one of the greases that will oil the engines of the AfCFTA.”
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director for the International Trade Centre, hinted thate reliable trade information “is central to the implementation of the AfCFTA, and the African Trade Observatory (https://ato.africa) is available for the Business community to make use of it.
“It will provide real time market information on the AfCFTA, as well as assist policymakers in making informed decisions.”
Ms. Vanessa Erogbogbo, Head of ITC-SheTrade equally added her voice, stating that promotion of cross border trading “is central to the African Women Business Community. As ITC-SheTrades, the implementation of the AfCFTA should witness smooth cross border trade.”
The AfBC is working earnestly to constitute greater support for the AfCFTA by the continental private sector while actively engaging African policy makers on any recommendations and concerns expressed by the sector. It is expected to hold its first general assembly in 2021.