ast African Community (EAC) is seeking the establishment of structured dialogue frameworks with the private sector, civil societies, and other groups at different levels of policy formulation, to enhance the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Speaking in Accra, Ghana, during the 1st coordination meeting of Heads of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) implementing the AfCFTA, Dr. Peter Mathuki, EAC Secretary-General, noted that AfCFTA, with a promising market of around 1.3 billion consumers and a GDP of 3.4 trillion US dollars, can unlock many opportunities beneficial to African’s citizens.
“There is an urgent need for citizen sensitization and regular capacity building activities at national and regional levels, to inform African citizens on issues around the continental agreement and how they can benefit from it,” he said.
Dr. Mathuki expressed that this could be achievable through deepening collaboration between AfCFTA Secretariat, Regional Economic Blocs Secretariats such as the EAC or Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Regional Economic Blocs Business Councils such as the East African Business Council (EABC).
“Establishing structured dialogue frameworks while engaging the private sector, civil societies, and other groups at different levels of policy formulation, will ensure the agreement is embraced and its gains trickle down to Africans,” he added.
The AfCFTA is the largest trade agreement, by the composition of countries enjoined, since the formation of the World Trade Organization. Currently, 54 out of the 55 African countries have signed the AfCFTA Agreement, with 41 having ratified it.
The agreement was set to open up the African market to trade freely. It will boost intra-African trade and trigger structural transformation with the goal of reducing poverty.
Dr. Mathuki called upon RECs’ Business Councils to focus on building political goodwill for the implementation and enforcement of AfCFTA.
The EAC chief also called on the development of a simplified trade regime for the AfCFTA and the development of continental standard operating procedures on border agency cooperation.
In his remarks, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele MENE noted that the mandate of AfCFTA Secretariat is to coordinate the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement while ensuring close collaboration with all key stakeholders namely the State Parties, the Secretariats of RECs, the business community, and strategic partners.
“Regional Economic blocs are the building blocks of the AfCFTA and thus we are keen on closely collaborating with all. We are also keen on involving the private sector, as it is a very strong pillar and catalyst for industrialization on the continent,” he noted.
It represented the eight RECs recognized by the African Union at the Meeting: Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Southern African Development Community (SADC).