World leaders agree that after years of colonial oppression, Africa should focus on trade agreements that benefit African states.
In March 2018, 44 of 55 leaders of African countries made history when they signed an agreement that launched the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) — an agreement that would make the continent the largest free trade area created since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
At the time African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said AfCFTA would also strengthen Africa’s position in global trade: “AfCFTA will make Africa one of the largest economies in the world and enhance its capacity to interact on equal terms with other international economic blocs.”
Since then, several States, including Kenya, Ghana, Rwanda have ratified their agreements, which is expected to give 1.2 billion people — in all 55 states — access to an intra-African market. It could also see import duties done away with and create an expanded African market that could see a combined increase in GDP of more than USD3.4-trillion by 2022.
Kimal Harvey — who works at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation — concurs with the AU’s position on trade in Africa. He suggested in an opinion piece written for Daily Maverick that Africa Day should focus on solidifying a change in consciousness that could lead to African states becoming more self-sufficient. He argued that while policy changes and economic development are areas of high priority, Africa is still “overly reliant on trade deals and support from our colonial past.”
Dr. Emmanuel Owusu-Sekyere, chairperson of the HSRC’s 8th African Unity for Renaissance International Conference believes industrialisation is crucial to Africa’s development agenda which is to reduce poverty and inequality in the continent.
“To enable these objectives, governments, business and civil society in Africa must begin to implement their plans aimed at growing their economies. This will be crucial to positioning the continent as an investment destination while developing the necessary skills and competencies to beneficiate our collective natural resources.”
Africa Day commemorates the founding of the African Union which took place on the 25th of May 1963. The theme this year is “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”
Happy Africa Day!