Yohane Mbeeya Moono
An Alumni of the Zambia Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies
Reuters Trained Journalist
The African Continent under the Pan-African Vision of “An integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa” came up with the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. This is solely the brainchild of the Continental body the African Union. This also represents the biggest trade Agreement after the World Trade Organization agreement.
The African Continent has a population of 1, 415, 569, 164 people as at Thursday 3rd November, 2022 based on the latest United Nations estimates. This is equivalent to 16.72% of the total World Population. This is only bettered by Asia as the world’s most populous continent. Demographically, the African population is mainly Youthful and the Youthful population on the continent accounts for about 63 % of the population on the continent. Based on the demographic information, the agreement has the capacity to thrive and catapult Africa to new level of development.
The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement which was signed in 2019 and came into effect on 1st January,2021 is currently being piloted in eight (8) countries and these include: Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Tunisia, Mauritius, Egypt,Rwanda and Cameroon. The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area are based in Accra, Ghana.
The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement has the potential to become a game-changer and bring some great opportunities for entrepreneurs, businesses and consumers om the continent and some of the supposed benefits include:
Fostering specialization and boosting industrialization. The continent is on the path of improving value addition to the products and improving the value Chain Agreements. This will provide the human resource on the continent to use their various specialized skills through service provision in fostering the protocols of the Agreement.
Strengthening regional and international cooperation that is bilateral and multilateral cooperation. The agreement provides an opportunity for countries to enhance bilateral ties and the importance of Regional Economic Communities comes in handy as they are there to ensure that the protocols of the Agreement are adhered to by the countries on the continent.
Increasing employment and investment opportunities as well as technological advancement. Unemployment is one challenge that many countries are grappling with but with the coming into effect of the Agreement, entrepreneurs are going to be afforded the opportunity to be employers and reduce the unemployment rates among the African youths.
Furthermore, the Agreement will help to provide the opportunity to harness African population dividend. The Agreement provides an opportunity for the continent to come together for a unified purpose and all peoples of the continent pulling towards one common goal which the development of the African Continent.
The Agreement has come at the time the continent is grappling with better policy formulation. This provides an opportunity for better policy framework. It is common knowledge that policies on the continent do not protect and promote local Entrepreneurs and Businesses. The coming of this Agreement should ensure that governments across the continent formulate policies that are going to protect and promote the growth of Local Entrepreneurs and Businesses.
Improving the Intra-Africa Trade landscape and export structure. African countries need to build trust and begin to engage more in Trade. Statistics show that African countries Trade more the China, the European Union and the United States of America than they do among themselves. Countries on the continent should work on the export policies that are going to enhance Intra-Africa Trade.
The Agreement is also expected to create a liberalized market for goods and services as well as movement of people. African countries need to remove visa requirements for citizens of the continent. This is to encourage Trade among members of the African Union.
The Agreement is expected to boost the African economy to a tune of up to 55 % of the current Gross Domestic Product value of the continent.
For the Agreement to realize it’s intended benefits, aspects such as access to education, access to information and access to capital should be ready available and highly improved for the Youths to easily access them.
For the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement(AfCFTA) to be a success, the Youths need to be very active and move away from the dependency syndrome which is currently the trend in most if not all African countries.