UNDP estimates US$70bn annual growth through AfCFTA

35199526543 d7d9ecace2 zThe United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has estimated that if Africa increases its share of global trade from 2 to 3 per cent, it would result in an annual additional income of about US$70bn

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) treaty signed in March 2018 by 44 countries is seen as the most ambitious effort to form what has the potential to be the biggest free trade agreement, which aims to create a single continental market of goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments across Africa.

Participants to the 13th African Economic Conference have called for African countries to leverage the full range of their strengths and resources to accelerate the region’s drive towards continental integration.

Ahunna Eziakonwa, regional director of UNDP for Africa, stated, “African countries need to collaborate more effectively in devising public policies that can create skills, foster innovation and technological advancement, facilitate labour mobility and access to productive assets including land and finance.

Claudine Uwera, Rwanda’s minister of State in charge of Economic Planning, said, “Africa's integration is no longer a choice. It's a must for the continent and its people. To become the global player that it deserves to be, Africa should integrate speedily.”

Experts agreed that a self-reliant approach that emphasises intra-African trade, would not only help deepen regional economic integration, but contribute significantly to sustainable economic growth, job creation, poverty reduction, and inflow of foreign direct investment.

Giovanie Biha, deputy executive secretary of ECA, added, “It’s time to ratify AfCFTA, the more ambitious the liberalisation, the higher will be the gains in terms of increase in GDP and exports.”

Gabriel Negatu, director general of African Development Bank, observed, “We are committed to continue supporting Africa's integration agenda for it will lead to sustained growth and allow the continent to withstand external pressures; enable African companies to grow and become global giants.”

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