Africa cannot afford failing to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a senior official of the African Union Commission (AUC) has said.
Albert Muchanga, the AU commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining, said in a media briefing during the 42nd Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council Wednesday that the AfCFTA is a key asset to transform Africa and failing to implement the program can not be affordable.
“Right now, it (AfCFTA) is Africa’s biggest development program and hence we are accelerating implementation of the agreement, establishing the African continental free trade area. We cannot afford to fail. We cannot afford to relax,” Muchanga said.
He said the implementation of the AfCFTA is a long journey and it would help Africa realize a continental market with free movement of persons, capital, goods and services to deepen economic integration, promote agricultural development, food security, industrialization and structural economic transformation.
The commissioner urged for establishing connectivity among all political capitals, and commercial and tourism centers, speeding up development, boosting production and promoting regional and continental value chains through joint efforts of all stakeholders across the continent.
Noting that a lot of African countries are promoting the development of startups, he said the AU is coming up with a model of African youth start-up operations in a bid to harmonize policies across the continent.
“There is very little harmonization. So, for Africa to really become a strong player in the global economy, the issue of macroeconomic policy harmonization becomes very, very important,” he said.
The AU is tasked to establish the African monetary institute and harmonize economic policies across Africa, said the commissioner, stressing that the implementation of the task would lead to the formation of an African central bank and the establishment of one African currency.
The AfCFTA is the flagship program of Agenda 2063 of the African Union. It aims to boost intra-African trade in goods and services. The agreement covers 55 members with a population of 1.4 billion people and an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of more than 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars.
So far, 44 countries of the continent have ratified the AfCFTA agreement, thereby meeting the legal conditions required for trading under the Free Trade Area (FTA). The AfCFTA aims to create a single market for goods and services, expand intra-Africa trade, resolve the challenges faced in intra-African trade (including overlapping regional economic community membership), create a large investment area and leverage economies of scale to boost manufacturing competitiveness.