Harare (New Ziana) – The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has chosen at least eight countries to start exchanging goods and services as part of efforts to accelerate large-scale trade and business development on the continent.
The move is part of efforts to diversify and increase export among African countries through Export Trading Companies (ETCs) while achieving the continent’s industrialization drive and make it economically self-reliant.
Countries chosen to start trading include Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania and Tunisia.
Ghanaian deputy Trade and Industry Hebert Krapa said this during a seminar to sensitize African countries on the role of ETCs in easing intra-African trade under the AfCFTA.
He said the AfCFTA secretariat had launched the Initiative on Guided Trade to translate all the progress on paper into action, to make the continent’s industrial revolution and its ability for self-reliance attainable.
“In the coming weeks, the dream of our forebears will be off the ground,” he said.
“Trading goods and services from Harare to Bamako or Kigali, or exporting processed cocoa from Accra to the entire northern African region should no longer be a nightmare if we make the appropriate investments into ETCs.”
Karpa explained that ETCs would make Africa leave no one behind in the regional value chain, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), young entrepreneurs, start-ups, light manufacturers as well as big industries.
He said these value-chain players would be providing export and import services, warehousing, transportation, finance, insurance, risk management and market intelligence, around which the free trade area would thrive.
Governments and private sector players, he said, should have the right policy, finance, institutional framework, productive capacity and infrastructure to enjoy the benefits that AfCFTA provided.
The chosen countries would showcase the strengths and advantages of the AfCFTA as an ideal investment destination for foreign investors in Africa.
By providing access to an integrated market of over 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc, the AfCFTA will be the largest free trade area since the establishment of World Trade Organisation.
The AfCFTA entered into force on May 30, 2019 after 24 out of the 54 African countries had deposited their instruments of ratification, while it operational phase was launched during the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Niamey, Niger on July 7 the same year.