The immediate past president of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Judson Wendell Addy, has urged the continent to work towards establishing an enabling environment that will help foster the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
According to him, African leaders will have to demonstrate political will to be able to achieve integration for the economic development and transformation of the continent.
He was speaking at a virtual Master Class programme organised by Wealth Masters Group, based in the UK.
“AfCFTA is the path to the Africa we want, so we have to put in all the enablers to have it function. We need to encourage our political leaders to give us the reforms that we need,” he said.
“We have to address unrest, policies that should be common across the border, currency issues, banking and transactions. There is a whole range of things that have to be addressed to serve the role of trade integration.”
Maxwell Amo-Hoyte, of the Association of African Universities, cautioned that the continent needs to build competence in order to fully take advantage of the initiative, else the Western powers will benefit more.
“Inasmuch as we want to have a common market, if we don’t position ourselves well, it is our former masters who are going to benefit more.”
The Programmes Manager for the Pan African Chamber of Commerce, Wincate Muthini, stated that stakeholders need to come together by way of synergies, connections and networks that can forge the continent ahead for the next five years.
She added that inasmuch as people are excited about the AfCFTA, concrete foundations have to be laid for the future, since all the objectives cannot be attained within one year.
Trading under AfCFTA commenced on January 1, and Ghana has already freighted its first cargo under the arrangement.
As a continental common market, AfCFTA’s objective is to facilitate the movement of goods, services and persons, and promote industrial development and sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth in Africa.
It is estimated that the single African market will increase intra-Africa trade by as much as US$35bn dollars per annum, by harnessing the purchasing power of the continent’s 1.2 billion people.
AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-Africa trade.