The African Business Council, AfBC, says trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents enormous business opportunities for the Pan-African private sector, Small and Medium Enterprises, women and youths.
In a statement issued on Friday, the group commended the continent’s bold move towards boosting intra-African trade.
The trading was launched on January 1, 2021, following the African Union Assembly’s decision on December 5, 2020 at the 13th Extra Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union on the AfCFTA.
The council also reiterated its support for the political leaders in this endeavour.
“The AfCFTA gives us an opportunity to drive our agenda. For many years, the African business community has been individualistic in driving the continent’s agenda. It is an opportunity for us as the African Business Council to come together and support the implementation of the AfCFTA. We are a united voice, and we can do this together,” the Interim Chair Person of the AfBC, Dr Amany Asfour, said.
The Interim Vice-Chair Person of the AfBC, Dr Ahmed Mansur, described the free trade opportunity as a platform for the Pan-African private sector to build Africa through manufacturing, distribution, transportation, health eco-systems, among others.
“It is a new year, and new opportunities are emerging. As manufacturers, traders, farmers, transporters, shippers, women business associations and youths, here is our time. Let us go out there and grab the opportunities. It is time to feed Africa through agriculture, manufacturing and promoting value chains. It is only through a united voice that we can have transformation in Africa,” Mansur added.
“The proliferation of non-tariff barriers in Africa has often hindered intra-Africa trade. It is difficult to move cargo among African countries, and the online system on the monitoring, reporting and elimination of non-tariff barriers will assist in the implementation of the AfCFTA”, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ms. Amina Mohammed, while speaking on the initiative.
The President and Chair of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, also pledged to support the implementation of the AfCFTA through the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS).
The Executive Director, International Trade Centre, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, said, “Reliable trade information is central to the implementation of the AfCFTA, and the African Trade Observatory is available for the business community to make use of it. It will provide real time market information on the AfCFTA, as well as assist policymakers in making informed decisions.”
On her part, the Head of ITC-SheTrade, Ms. Vanessa Erogbogbo, said promotion of cross border trading was central to the African Women Business Community.
With the commencement of the start of trading, the AfBC said it was working earnestly to constitute greater support of the AfCFTA by the continental private sector while actively engaging African policy makers on any recommendations and concerns expressed by the sector.