Kigali 23 September 2021 (ECA) - The business community is a key part of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and could benefit immensely in terms of access to raw materials, technology and also increasing economies of scale for participation in regional and global value chains, said Ms Mama Keita, Director of UN Economic Commission for Africa, Office for Eastern Africa.
Ms Keita was speaking during a webinar organized by ECA in collaboration with the East African Business Council (EABC) to discuss with the private sector of East Africa about the AfCFTA implementation in East Africa.
The e-meeting participants exchanged views on how to harness the potential of the African markets and on how businesses can seize the moment to implement and benefit from the AfCFTA agreement.
ECA simulations stress that AfCFTA is set to boost Eastern Africa manufactured exports, in particular, textiles & clothing exports will increase by 100 per cent, heavy manufacturing by 63 per cent, light manufacturing by 61percent, Processed food by 54 per cent while livestock & meat products by 39 per cent.
In his presentation, Mr Rodgers Mukwaya, an Economic Affairs Officer at ECA said that the implementation of AfCFTA would increase intra-African Trade by over 50 per cent. The agreement would also boost the continent’s GDP by more than $40 billion, and its exports by more than $55 billion.
A panel discussion to tackle the AfCFTA Implementation in East Africa was done between Mr Denis Karera, Vice Chairman of East African Business Council (EABC), Mr Steven Asiimwe, Director for Advocacy of Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU); Mr Davilyne Busuru, Policy and Regulatory Compliance Analyst for Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA).
Karera has urged the EAC Partner States to finalize and submit tariff offers under the AfCFTA to enable the EAC bloc to tap into the 1.3 billion continental markets with a Gross Domestic Product of USD 3 trillion.
“Political will to duly implement the agreed commitments of the AfCFTA is a cornerstone to actualize the benefits of the continental agreement,” said Mr Karera. He further added that protectionism and Non-Tariff Barriers can bloc the growth of intra-African trade and called for the embracement of the Pan-African mindset to push the AfCFTA agenda.
Panellists agreed that the private sector is the engine of Africa’s economy as it accounts for over 80 per cent of total production, two-thirds of total investment, and three-fourths of lending within the economy, according to ECA. The private sector also provides jobs for about 90 per cent of the employed working-age population.
ECA stresses that by making African economies more competitive and enabling the development and upgrading of regional value chains, AfCFTA promises opportunities for job creation, dynamic growth and economic empowerment for women and marginalized groups such as refugees and internally displaced persons.
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