Kigali, 16 June 2022 (ECA) – Trade Experts, members of the private sector and officials of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) met to discuss and validate the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) National Implementation strategy.
The validated strategy will serve as a blueprint to identify key products and services as well as markets that Rwanda will prioritize to tap into the opportunities provided by the agreement.
Ms Béata Habyarimana, Rwanda's Minister of Trade and Industry told the participants that businesses in Africa are eager to start trading and to fast-track the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement. The Minister reminded that the start of trading has started on 1 January 2021, but the actual trade has not yet kicked off due to the outstanding negotiations, including the finalization of tariff offers and Rules of origin for textiles and automotive sectors.
Habyarimana reaffirmed the business community that the Rwandan government is fully committed to ensuring a favourable business environment to allow the private sector to grow their exports.
ECA estimates large gains for Eastern Africa, including an increase in intra-African exports by over US$ 1 billion and the creation of over 2 million new jobs.
Speaking at the event, Ms Mama Keita, Director of ECA in Eastern Africa underlined how African economies are characterized by very high imports of essential goods from the rest of the world. “We only need to look at the pharmaceutical industry, said Mama. “Africa covers over 90% of its needs in pharmaceutical products by resorting to imports from the rest of the world”, she stressed, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how in the event of a global crisis, it is risky to depend too heavily on the rest of the world in terms of essential goods.
Ms Keita further explained that during the past two years, many countries have imposed export bans on some key pharmaceutical and food products, thereby heightening the vulnerability of African importers.
The National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy highlights that Rwanda is expected to gain from sectors with strong potential for increased industrialisation such as agro processing of food products, mining and mineral processing of high-value extracts like coltan, tantalum and cobalt, construction materials like cement, iron, steel and ceramics, light manufacturing of textiles, leather products, pharmaceuticals, electronic equipment.
The Minister of Trade and Industry extended special appreciation to ECA and the European Union for providing technical and financial support in the development of Rwanda's National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy.
The meeting held in Serena, Kigali on 9 June 2022 gathered more than 70 people, featuring government officials, academics, the private sector as well as media.
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Tel: +251 11 551 5826