The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and communication consultancy AUNIQUEI, with funding from the European Union (EU) today in Dakar, opened a consultation with African micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Business leaders and trade experts from across Africa are participating in the three-day event to gain insight into the challenges the agreement poses to small and medium businesses. The AfCFTA which commenced operations in January is set to create the biggest free trade area in the World with a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$2.5 trillion. The bloc has immense opportunities for increasing intra-regional trade, enhancing production, promoting economies of scale, creating jobs, raising incomes, and improving the standard of living of the African people.
In her speech to open the meeting, the Director of the African Institute for Development and Economic Planning (IDEP), Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane, said the gathering was intended to see how participants could together boost the agreement’s implementation, adding that, the MSMEs should play their part alongside the public sector if the AfCFTA was to succeed.
Making reference to the COVID-19 crisis, she said in spite of the adverse challenges of the past two years, Africa was making efforts to ensure the success of the agreement, and that when implemented, it would take Africa’s gross domestic product to $3.4 trillion.
Similarly, ECA’s Senior Regional Adviser, Adeyinka Adeyemi, said the forum’s objective was to seek to build a network of African MSMEs as well as to learn what the AfCFTA meant to the enterprises and to help them make money. Event facilitator and Chief Executive Officer of AUNIQUEI Bunmi Makinwa said the bottom line for the agreement was to ensure free movement of goods and services, enhance business interaction, and that the continent should prosper.
Topics for discussion during the forum include:
Challenges of AfCFTA implementation, successes, and factors that facilitate solutions;
AfCFTA Implementation in countries, regions, and in the business sectors;
Political, economic, and financial reforms on reducing the costs of trading; and
Logistics, infrastructure, and non-tariff measures to improve the investment and business climate
Participants include representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Federation of West African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), and women traders’ groups from across the continent.
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