Political will needed to implement Africa free trade area AfCFTA

Leonard Ncube – [email protected]

AFRICA needs the political will to collectively remove cross-border barriers and successfully implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The AfCFTA is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and seeks to significantly boost intra-Africa trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all sectors of Africa’s economy.

It was launched during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Niamey — Niger, in July 2019 to create a single continental market with a population of about 1,3 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of approximately US$3,4 trillion.

From 24 member states depositing their Instruments of Ratification in 2019, a total of 54 nations have ratified according to authorities, to create the world’s largest free trade area in the African Union (AU) and eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

Implementation of the AfCFTA is the main focus of the 9th edition of the Africa Public Service Day commemorations underway in Victoria Falls under the theme: “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) requires a fit for purpose African Public Administration to succeed.”

Addressing delegates, the chairman of Public Service Commission in Zimbabwe Dr Vincent Hungwe said the opening up of borders and increasing mobility will assist in the cross-pollination of ideas, skills transfer and innovation which are critical to the Africa Agenda and reversing colonial educational and economic system.

He said public administration and management is going to be the foundation for creating inclusive and sustainable product and service value and supply chains that will underpin meaningful trade within the AfCFTA.

“To achieve this, Africa needs national level political will that translates into national policies, institutions, systems and processes that bear continental relevance, openness in trade and investment and the elimination of trade barriers among

African countries including barriers to services and investments and the mobility of entrepreneurial capacities,” said Dr Hungwe.

“Political will by policymakers can be a push to the attainment of openness to Africa trade and investment and elimination of trade barriers among African countries, including barriers to services and investment, and mobility of entrepreneurial capacities. Opening up our borders and increasing mobility helps in the cross-pollination of ideas, skills transfer and innovation. These are vital tools to sustain our Africanicity and improve on open for business philosophy.”

Dr Hungwe implored the continent to think outside the box and have systems of public administration and management that are innovative and pivot the transformation of the entire continent.

He called for building of inter-linking relationships that are designed to accelerate the emergence of a new institutional architecture to successfully plan and effectively manage implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

African Union

He said there is a need to deepen performance of national systems of public administration and management within the framework of institutions that are built on the principles of competitiveness, efficiency, effectiveness, a cardinal call to national systems of public administration and management to deliver.

“AfCFTA is reminding us that for us to attain and sustain the required economic progress through trade, there is need to master new technologies, innovation including digitalisation in order to foster productivity and competitiveness especially as we seek to interface with a complex, globalised and unforgiving world trade environment,” Dr Hungwe.

There was consensus among presenters and participants about the need to break barriers, including cultural and language.

They also agreed that there is a need to move away from dependency on colonial systems so as to embrace Africanism and effectively open borders.

Dr Mekuria Haile, chair of Ethiopia Civil Service Commission said pandemics such as the Covid-19 and world crisis such as the Russsia-Ukraine war as well as rise of the digital economy had shown Africa the need for collaboration, regional integration and working together to leverage of artificial intelligence to be able to prosper.

He said Africa needs to focus on productivity using local resources and invest in continental grid as the foundation for growth.

Mr Richard Phungwayo, the Under Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service in the Kingdom of Eswatini said Africa needs to reconfigure its thinking, amend the education curriculum and open borders to workforce.

The conference ends today.

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