‘Continental Free Trade Area Needs Political Will’- Kagame

‘Continental Free Trade Area Needs Political Will’- Kagame

Over 1,500 business leaders come together to make African economic integration a reality at the 7th edition of the largest international meeting of Africa’s private sector.

The Africa CEO’s business meeting kicked off this morning March 25 through March 26 in Kigali, Rwanda, with President Paul Kagame joined by President Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia and newly elected Felix Etienne Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The presidents also spoke on an Economic Integration panel, under the theme: Making the single market work for African businesses.

The leading decision-makers from industry, finance and politics, will come from more than 70 countries to discuss regional integration along with other key topics for the development of Africa’s businesses.

At a time when intra-continental trade remains too weak, Africa’s most influential business leaders have decided to come together and make their voices heard and bring to the fore the burning issues to address in order to make African economic integration a reality.

Their goal: to make the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) a powerful driver for private sector growth and the emergence of new African champions.

African Continental Free Trade Area, and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, which were also signed last year 2018.

But aviation figures show that in that period, 127million passengers traveled by air last year, but 85% of them were moving to destinations outside Africa while 15% of them remained in Africa

These travels generated $30billion, and only 15% of its remained in Africa.

“CFTA can work but we must put an effort. There is no question this is the right way to go. Actually it’s the only way to go. We are aware and know how that it works. Political will must come first,” Kagame said.

Estimates by the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) indicate that AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-African trade by eliminating import duties, and double trade – if non-tariff barriers are also reduced.

This, UNECA report says, will increase  the intra-Africa trade number from the current 15% to 52.3% compared to 54% in the North America Free Trade Area, 70% within the European Union and 60% in Asia.

The Africa development bank estimated that with a population of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion, an integrated Africa with more open borders will accelerate the development of the continent in unprecedented ways.

Africa Visa Openness Index 2018, launched in Kigali shows that Benin and the Seychelles lead the way by offering visa-free access to all Africans, and Rwanda among countries on African continent which continue to make it easy for citizens to move freely from and within their neighboring countries.