- Implementing AfCFTA is the key to unlocking job creation on an unmatched scale.
- The absence of coercion allows a diverse range of products and services to flourish, enabling consumers to exercise their freedom of choice.
- Becoming a member of the AfCFTA is not just a symbolic act: it holds tangible benefits by signing the agreement and incorporating the AfCFTA into a country’s laws.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), a behemoth in the world of trade agreements, unites an astounding 55 countries of the African Union (AU) alongside eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
This initiative aspires to forge a single continental market, a realm inhabited by approximately 1.3 billion people. Imagine the possibilities!
However, what does the AfCFTA indeed entail?
It goes beyond mere rhetoric and embraces the transformative power of dismantling trade barriers while fostering value-added production across all service sectors.
The visionaries behind this initiative aim to establish regional value chains that will attract investment, ignite job creation, and ultimately boost Africa’s competitive edge.
The AfCFTA is not just a trade agreement but a catalyst for change, a key player in transforming Africa into a formidable powerhouse.
In a webinar hosted by Sylvia Muhaya, Regional Coordinator for Events (Africa) Students for Liberty, the spotlight shone on the pressing question that has long intrigued policymakers and economists: Will Africa finally adopt a free markets policy?
Benefits of AfCFTA implementation
As the AfCFTA hangs in the balance, its potential to usher in a new era of economic prosperity is inspiring.
Beyond the theoretical framework, implementing this historic agreement promises tangible benefits that would transform the continent.
Among these, easing trade barriers takes center stage, fueling economic growth and opening a stage for financial abundance.
“The World Bank, in this case, has estimated that this agreement will increase Africa’s income by $450 billion by 2035 and result in an increase in intra-African exports by more than 81%,” reveals Andrew Munganga, Regional Coordinator for Marketing and Communications (Africa) at Students for Liberty, Zambia.
These figures vividly depict a financial influx, signifying a momentous shift in Africa’s economic fortunes.
Additionally, Munganga shares that the United Nations projects that the AfCFTA implementation could enable the continent to reach up to $29 billion by 2050.
These estimations testify to the immense potential of the agreement to propel Africa towards self-reliance, breaking free from the shackles of reliance on foreign aid.
Implementing AfCFTA is the key to unlocking job creation on an unmatched scale.
As trade barriers dissolve and regional value chains flourish, investments will pour into Africa, leading to vibrant industries and opportunities for skilled and unskilled labor.
Developing value-added products and services will stand out, nurturing a climate of entrepreneurship, fair competition, and innovation to fuel Africa’s ascent to global prominence.
Rouben, one of the key players in implementing AfCFTA, brings forth a stark reality that must be faced head-on: the challenge of integrating countries by land.
As he passionately shares his vision for a seamless flow of goods, services, and people from West Africa to Central Africa and East Africa, he shines the light on the hurdles ahead.
The dream of interconnectedness and reduced costs hinges upon a robust and efficient transportation network, and this is where the actual test arises.
While progress has been made in various regions, Rouben Tamba, CEO of Ubrimma Logistics, Member and AfCFTA Youth Advisory Council from Cameroon, points out that Central Africa has faced a significant obstacle in the form of dilapidated roads.
This glaring infrastructure gap has hindered the smooth movement of goods and services, impeding the realization of a truly integrated continental market.
However, he asserts that these roadblocks can be overcome with concerted efforts and strategic investments.
As discussions unfolded during the webinar, Munayo added how other countries enjoy the freedom of movement.
“it is very difficult to move around Africa, but in Europe, it is very easy, you may not need a visa to cross-over, this makes it a hustle for logistics companies,” she shares.
The free market policy, elements
“Free market policy is the economic system where everything is in a cycle around the voluntary exchange, the law of supply and demand with little or no control of central planner or government,” Diane Mumararungu, National Coordinator, Rwanda, Students for Liberty, explains.
Munganga echoes Ms. Mumararungu’s sentiments, delving into the intricate parts of a free market.
Drawing upon his experience, he uses the example of stock movements and ownership in Zambia, like cows and sheep; you would need a stock market certificate.
“It becomes worse when you need to move your cattle to another country; it is difficult!” he reveals.
Linda Kariuki, National Coordinator, Students for Liberty, Kenya, takes the spotlight, unraveling the elements that underpin a free market policy.
She highlights the pivotal role of private property rights in empowering individuals, particularly marketers, who can exercise control over their assets, providing a solid foundation for economic growth and success.
Additionally, she adds the concept of voluntary exchange.
In a free market setup, individuals can transact and purchase goods according to their needs and preferences.
The absence of coercion allows a diverse range of products and services to flourish, enabling consumers to exercise their freedom of choice.
She delves into the transformative power of free market competition, noting that in a free market environment, the barriers to entry are lowered, allowing healthy competition.
A thriving Africa
The AfCFTA stands as a monumental endeavor that has the potential to reshape Africa’s economic landscape and propel the continent to new heights of prosperity.
This transformative agreement seeks to put Africa firmly on the map, leveling up economies and creating a platform for small and medium businesses to thrive.
Sylvia eloquently shares the importance of supporting these enterprises, as most are led by women, who are vital in driving economic growth and social development.
Becoming a member of the AfCFTA is not just a symbolic act: it holds tangible benefits by signing the agreement and incorporating the AfCFTA into a country’s laws.
It becomes a reference point, a guiding force that paves the way for economic integration and collaboration. The president of the Minister of Trade signs the agreement to join AfCFTA.
This commitment solidifies a nation’s stance on embracing free trade and positions it as an active participant in the journey towards a united and prosperous Africa.
However, realizing the full potential requires a collective effort. Munganga reminds us that the way forward demands zero tolerance for corruption, starting with individual actions and extending to societal and leadership levels.
Selfishness among leaders must be overcome, giving way to a spirit of collaboration and shared prosperity.
Deregulating laws that hinder business transactions across Africa is crucial while addressing crime and creating a safe environment for investment are vital components of the path forward.
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Ultimately, the goal of AfCFTA is to create boundless opportunities for Africans. It is a rallying cry for inclusivity, economic empowerment, and unlocking the continent’s vast potential.