High-level conference pushes regional integration agenda

A greater level of integration could help African countries make their voices heard on the global stage - and the African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) framework could go a long way towards correcting the imbalance during negotiation between regional trading blocs.

That was the message that came through loud and clear at the 2018 African Economic Conference (AEC) held earlier this week in Kigali, Rwanda.

Organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Development Bank, the event brought together close to 400 participants, including African researchers, government officials, policy-makers, youth, civil society and private sector leaders.

Moono Mupotola of the African Development Bank commented: “Since there is political will, policy makers and implementers of the AfCFTA should try to come up with a perfect situation to start implementing what our political leaders have agreed.”

Adam Elhiraika, director of ECA’s Macroeconomics and Governance Division called on African countries to meet their commitments on signing and ratifying AfCFTA.  

“We all know the benefits of facilitating free movement of goods, services and people when we open our borders and integrate. Africa’s GDP would increase as high as 6% every year,” he said. “We need to make sure that our leaders’ commitment and vision to form African Continental Free Trade is realised and implemented. One single continental market for goods and services means wealth and prosperity for all Africans.”

To date, 44 African countries have signed the landmark AfCFTA.  Twelve out of the required 22 countries ratified it. The deadline for ratification is March 2019.

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