Africa’s Agro-Industrial Development, a Priority under Trade Agreement – AfCFTA Sec-Gen

Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Wamkele Mene has said that AfCFTA is initiating engagements to advance Africa’s Agro-Industrial development objectives beyond its current clime.

The AfCFTA’s head stated that the agro-processing sector was vital in reconfiguring Africa’s production and supply chain, seemingly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mene made these remarks at the official launch of the AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra, Ghana, handed over by Ghana’s President, Nana Akuffo-Addo to the African Union Commission (AUC).

The AfCFTA Secretariat building was formally commissioned to kick into gear the flagship initiative of AfCFTA to achieve a continental geographic free trade zone where goods and services move among Africans, with zero restrictions.

African leaders, including Akuffo-Addo and Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of South Africa who doubles as the AU Chair, consolidated AfCFTA, stating that it will transform the economic fortune of the continent and encourage regional integration.

Mene who was appointed first Secretary-General of AfCFTA on March 19 this year, revealed that AfCFTA will work in tandem with key African partners to advance the continent’s industrial development objectives.

AfCFTA offers Africa an opportunity to confront the challenges of under-developed industrial regional value chains, he said.

“The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has ravaged global economic activity, has severely disrupted trade and global supply chains, and of course, has had a negative effect on global public health.

“Africa should not despair and fall into despondency – from a trade perspective, we should see this crisis as an opportunity

“Through the AfCFTA we have an opportunity to reconfigure our supply chains, to reduce reliance on others and to expedite the establishment of regional value chains that will boost intra-African trade and secure Africa’s productive capacity for generations to come

“I intend to extend this type of engagement to include other labour intensive sectors such as Agro-processing,” Mene revealed.

The Secretary-General also assured that AfCFTA will integrate women and young Africans at the heart of the implementation of AfCFTA to achieve its inclusive benefits.

“The empowerment of women, young Africans and other disadvantaged segments of our society is a central objective of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

“We know from empirical evidence that women, young Africans and SMEs, confront significant challenges when attempting to benefit from trade agreements.

“We will announce specific measures that can be put in place to enable women, young Africans and SMEs, to benefit from the AfCFTA to achieve the objective of inclusive benefits of the AfCFTA and shared growth across the continent,” he said.

The AfCFTA Secretariat is expected to kick-start full operations from next year, January 1st.



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