The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), has urged African nations to accelerate implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to make it more resilient and globally competitive.
Acting Executive Secretary of the ECA, Antonio Pedro said this in a statement issued by the Communications Section of the ECA on Thursday.
Pedro spoke at the 42nd Ordinary Session of the African Union Executive Council meeting in Addis Ababa on Wednesday.
He said Africa could build sufficient shock absorbers to build resilience, only through an accelerated and effective implementation of the AfCFTA.
According to him, by fast-tracking implementation of the AfCFTA, Africa can also provide solutions to the global challenges of supply chain disruptions, food insecurity, climate change, and migration.
Pedro said could be done through AfCFTA by providing the economy of scale to invest in manufacturing and increased intra-Africa trade.
According to him, the free trade area will bring supply chains closer to homes and inject self-sufficiency in essential products such as medicines, food and fertilisers.
“By providing more opportunities for women and the youth, the AfCFTA helps reduce inequality and poverty, and improves inclusion,” he said.
He said that ratification and implementation were some challenges that required immediate attention.
Pedro, however, appealed to the 10 African countries that had not yet ratified the agreement to do so.
The acting executive secretary said resource-based industrialisation should focus on value addition, smart operationalisation of local content policies, and tapping into global value chains.
According to him, the Battery and Electric Vehicle (BEV) sector is one that can enable the continent to tap into a global value.
He said the value is expected to reach 8.8 trillion dollars in the next three years and 46 trillion dollars by 2050.
“The ECA is supporting the BEV value chain with strong political will from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.
“The ECA is also partnering with stakeholders to support the transboundary agro-industry park and special economic zone involving Zambia and Zimbabwe, which could address food security concerns and tap into Africa’s food import market valued at about 90 billion dollars per year,’’ he said.
Pedro said the ECA would continue to support and collaborate with the African Union and other stakeholders to transform Africa into a globally competitive investment destination.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that AfCFTA was inaugurated in 2019, to establish a unified market of 1.3 billion people and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about 3.4 trillion dollars.
It is to become the world’s largest free trade area, with 55 member states. (NAN)