President: Support African Continental Free Trade Area

African Union Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has rallied for support of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which comes into operation in January 2021.

“Our continent is one of the fastest growing markets in the world with a projection of more than a billion consumers.

“The AfCFTA brings with it the promise of new beginnings and increased opportunities for our continent and its people.

“We reaffirm our optimism that the AfCFTA will leverage on these opportunities by attracting more foreign direct investment and expedite the implementation of post-COVID-19 economic recovery plans,” he said.

President Ramaphosa made the clarion call at the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union on the AfCFTA) that he presided over on Saturday.

The operationalisation of the AfCFTA is a historic milestone that brings together all 55 member states of the AU covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people and aims to accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market.

At its core is a developmental approach that seeks to liberalise trade, build value chains and overcome the infrastructure deficit on the continent.

For the AfCFTA to succeed, the President highlighted that the continent must address the political and socio-economic challenges that face the continent.

“We have to address issues of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. We have to address issues of security and instability, which are causing untold suffering for the African people and holding us back from realising our full potential.

“We have to renew our collective commitment to realising the aspirations of Agenda 2063, and not waver in our resolve to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by the end of this decade,” he said.

With plans for the operationalisation of the AfCFTA momentarily disrupted by the devastating coronavirus pandemic, President Ramaphosa urged the continent to remain united in implementing the AfCFTA while battling the pandemic.

“As we continue to battle this public health crisis, we are determined to remain firmly on the path of progress. In confronting this pandemic, we came together as never before.

“We have shown just what we Africans are capable of achieving when we stand united.

“Let us in the same spirit of unity and solidarity take forward the operationalisation of the AfCFTA and drive the post-pandemic economic recovery effort,” said the President.