Kinshasa, 17 December 2020 (ECA) - Experts attending the meeting to formulate the AfCFTA implementation strategy in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) discussed a range of sectors that could help the country benefit from the agreement.
The meeting to discuss the AfCFTA strategy was organized in Kinshasa by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) through its office for Eastern Africa in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Foreign Trade in DRC.
ECA estimates large potential gains from the AfCFTA for Eastern Africa, including an increase in intra-African exports by over US$ 1 billion and the creation of nearly 2 million new jobs. DRC is well placed to take advantage of those new opportunities.
The Kinshasa meeting was attended by 80 experts, including government officials, trade economists, university lecturers, and development partners.
Mr Wamkele MENE, Executive Secretary of the AfCTA Secretariat who addressed the meeting explained that if Africa must benefit from the agreement, greater attention must be geared towards stopping the colonial economic model of exporting primary commodities to Europe and the rest of the world. Mr Mene reminded participants that intra-African trade is very low. it is at 18% at best.
“This agreement [AfCFTA] presents a unique opportunity to dismantle this colonial economic model by embarking on Africa’s massive scale industrial development and establishment of regional value chains across the continent”, said Mr Mene. He stressed, however, that industrialization is not going to happen overnight as it requires discipline and, dedicated implementation of industrial development strategies decades after decades.
Mr Wamkele Mene cited a World Bank study which concluded that if Africans implement this agreement effectively, there is an opportunity by the year 2035 to lift 100 million Africans out of poverty with 30 million African being lifted out of extreme poverty.
Mama Keita, Director of ECA in Eastern Africa told the participants that not only will the AfCFTA boost DRC’s trade with other African trading partners, but it will also improve the prospects for diversification by increasing the demand for manufactured goods exports.
She highlighted the importance to put in place a suitable business environment and the conditions that are favourable for improving production capacities of the private sector.
“The private sector has to get ready to satisfy the demand of the African market and will only do so when it produces the needed services and products using the appropriate technologies,” said Ms Keita, adding that youth and women should also be included as players for the AfCFTA implementation.
The government of DRC expressed appreciation to ECA and the European Union for helping the country to develop the AfCFTA implementation strategy.
Mr Julien Paluku Kahongya, Minister of Industry in DRC said that the concretization of the potential of AfCFTA is particularly important given the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic which will emend a loss of up to US$79 billion in production for the year 2020.
He noted that with effective implementation of the agreement, African countries would make their economies resilient to future shocks and will be able to establish necessary reforms to stimulate long-term growth.
To date, 54 Member States have signed the AfCFTA; and more than 30 have ratified it. The main objectives of the agreement are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of persons and investments, and lay the foundations for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union.
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