News / World / Africa
The African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) may become the largest free trade area in the world with the inclusion of several more countries.
It would connect 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined GDP valued at about R47 trillion.
But Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Fikile Majola, speaking on Africa Day on Tuesday, noted that to make the largest free trade zone in the world a reality, significant policy reforms and trade facility measures were necessary.
“The start of trade under the ACFTA was a major achievement for the continent.
“It was a catalyst for boosting inter-Africa trade and investment, industrialisation as well as inclusivity in economic growth and development,” he said.
“The ACFTA was one of the flagship projects of the African Union’s agenda dated 2063, aimed at building an integrated market in Africa, anchored on a development integration approach where market integration was accompanied by cooperation to overcome infrastructure backlogs and policy cooperation to promote economic diversification including industrial development and building of cross boarder regional value chains.”
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The ACFTA was launched in Kigali, Rwanda, in March 2018. It was a milestone marking Africa’s commitment to the creation of an integrated and diversified market in Africa of approximately 1.3 billion people.
The minister noted that Africa’s leaders recognised that the promotion of inter-African trade was fundamental for sustainable economic development, employment generation and effective integration of Africa into the global economy.
“This flagship economic initiative seeks to address the challenges of Africa’s low levels of participation in the global economy and trade, which stands at 3% despite the fact that Africa counts for approximately 16% of the world’s population,” Majola said.
The formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) on 25 May, 1963 was also celebrated on Tuesday. The OAU’s main objectives were to rid the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonisation and apartheid, to promote unity and solidarity among African states and to promote international cooperation.
In 2002, the African Union (AU) was launched to create a new continental organisation to refocus attention away from the fight for decolonisation and ridding the continent of apartheid.
The new focus was towards increased cooperation and integration of African states to drive Africa’s growth and economic development.
In marking the 58th anniversary of the launch of the OAU on Tuesday on Africa Day, the Economic Freedom Fighters called for strengthening of the Pan African Parliament as a legislative and oversight body; establishment of an African standby force and joint African military action to stop the terrorism in Mozambique, Mali and all African countries affected by externally or internally sponsored conflicts, and the isolation of Morocco from all continental bodes until it allows the full independence of the Saharawi Republic.
The Pan African Parliament is meeting this week. Its agenda includes to continue the focus on the emancipation of women and children from economic exclusion, violence and abuse; promoting good governance and fighting corruption and illicit financial flows that rob Africa of billions of dollars; and eliminating conflict that diverts resources needed to accelerate development.