Collaborative action in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area will support rebuilding of African economies following disruption by the Covid-19 pandemic and strengthen resilience to future shocks, President Paul Kagame has said.
Kagame made the remarks while speaking at the Virtual AfCFTA Business Forum on Friday 4th December 2020.
The summit was held as the continent prepares to commence trading under the new regime in January 2021 following postponement of the previous launch date, July 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The President noted that the successful implementation of AfCFTA has become more important than before and will play a role driving recovery and resilience.
Intra-Africa trading will be beneficial as it will help build the capacity to compete internationally, he added.
“The Covid pandemic has delayed the start of trading, but we must stay on course. This collaborative action is now more important than ever, to rebuild our economies and strengthen Africa’s resilience to future shocks. So let’s get on with it. Doing more business with each other will be mutually beneficial for our countries, and it will also help us build the capacity to compete internationally,” the President said.
He called for the private sector’s involvement and urged countries to ensure that the adequate framework was in place for the successful implementation of the pact.
CFTA, he noted, requires involvement of all aspects of society including the youth and requires continuous communication of its benefits.
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“We must continue to communicate the benefits of free African trade to our citizens, especially young people, and mobilise them to remain engaged for the next phases of African integration,” he noted.
Experts say that the youth can make the most of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area through e-commerce, which commands a significant portion of global trade.
Kagame congratulated and welcomed Wamkele Mene, the new Secretary-General of the CFTA Secretariat promising support for successful implementation of the new trade regime. Kagame also congratulated President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger for continuously championing free trade on the continent.
The presidential session preceded the 13th Extraordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Government on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) scheduled for 5th December 2020 which is expected to deliberate the adoption of the decision on the start of trading under the regime.
The AfCFTA aims to create an African market of 1.27 billion consumers with a cumulative GDP of around $2.3 to $3.4 trillion. 34 African countries have ratified the AfCFTA Legal Instrument while 54 out of the 55 AU member states have signed the agreement.
Rwanda is among the countries that have expressed readiness to commence trading under AfCFTA on January 1.