VICE-PRESIDENT Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia says a fully realised African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has the potential to lift more than three million people out of poverty on the continent, in addition to providing more opportunities for growth and small businesses.
Addressing the maiden Africa Prosperity Dialogue held recently at Adukrom in the Eastern Region, Dr. Bawumia said AfCFTA could also increase intra-African trade by some $35 billion each year when fully realised, while also it could reduce imports from outside the continent by some $10 billion annually.
It is in view of this potential, that Dr. Bawumia has proposed smart investments in critical infrastructure on the continent as a way of catalysing intra-African trade.
According to him, “As a continent, we need to produce and trade our way out of poverty and underdevelopment, and we cannot do that without investing in smart infrastructure across the continent.”
These investments, which he described as ‘the arteries of trade,’ included physical infrastructure such as roads, rail, and energy; digital infrastructure such as data centres to facilitate the digital transformation and financial infrastructure to allow for integration financial markets.
Dr. Bawumia also pointed to the need to unleash the productive capacities across the continent, by creating platforms for knowledge brokerage and access to information on critical products and services on the continent.
That, he said, would allow 445 million small businesses across the continent to plug into the value chains of the mega industries.
“We need to develop Africa into a manufacturing zone that will facilitate the trade of value-added products. These, in my view, will be critical to leapfrog Africa’s industrialisation and the enormous socio-economic benefits,” he averred.
Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, stated that when fully implemented, AfCFTA has the potential to raise incomes on the continent by about 9 per cent.
He added that the establishment of a competition protocol that will create a single integrated market for the regulation of markets across the continent to overcome challenges such as food insecurity, access to good medicines to address public health needs and other areas of competition was also vital.
A business desk report