AfCFTA stakeholders workshop focuses on boosting Intra-Africa Trade

A one-day African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) stakeholders meeting on the theme “Addressing the Challenges to boost Intra-Africa trade” opened, this morning, at the Hennessy Park Hotel, Ebène Cyber City, Mauritius in presence of the Vice-President of the Republic of Mauritius, Mr Eddy Boissézon.

An initiative of the National Chapter of the African Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) Mauritius, in collaboration with AfCFTA and the Economic Development Board (EDB), the aim is to bring together public and private sectors as well as the business community at large to help in accelerating Intra-Africa trade through the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Agreement which is a powerful means for the integration of the African continent.

In his address, the Vice-President of the Republic of Mauritius, Mr Eddy Boissézon, highlighted the need for the creation of a single African continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, which he said will help expand intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation and facilitation. He further underlined the need to develop rapidly road maps for the implementation of blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies in Africa adding that these technologies will drive the emerging Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Vice-President also spoke on the digital economy in Mauritius which according to him, has gone a long way to position itself as the 3rd pillar of the economy and pitched on a high growth path. Moreover, he expressed optimism that the single African continental market will offer opportunities to accelerate the manufacture and intra-African trade of value-added products, moving from commodity based economies and exports to economic diversification and high-value exports.

For his part, the Chairman of the EDB-Mauritius, Mr. Charles Cartier observed that it is time for Africa to believe in the potential of the continent and tap on the wealth of resources and build the value chain. Producing high-end quality products will unlock new market access and foster export diversification that will ultimately build resilience to movements in demand due to global economic downturns, he added.

He reiterated the support of the EDB in helping Government implement the CFTA to infuse a new dynamism to the pace and scale of development for an integrated Africa which will further enhance connectivity and improve intra-regional trade. According to him, CFTA will trigger a new economic impetus for the region and create a single African market of over a billion consumers with a total GDP of over USD 3 trillion.

He concluded by stating that the continental agreement will be a game changer for stimulating intra-African trade which will harness new opportunities for Mauritius and while leveraging the inherent potential of the CFTA, Mauritian products will derive a competitive advantage and access a more diversified African market, he added.

Some 40 participants both local and foreign namely from the Public sector business facilitation agencies, Chambers of commerce, trade and industry and business clubs; trade and industry private sector players; Blockchain technologies and Artificial Intelligence experts and Start-Ups; and Land, sea and air logistics owners and operators are attending the workshop.

The workshop is serving as platform for the participants to deliberate and unlock the potentials of AfCFTA besides the launching of the “Business Boost Africa” platform, initiated by Vision Network Africa (VNA) as core objective to connect the private sector business community and business start-ups (promoting young women and men), to vulgarise the intra-Africa trades both at grassroots level and the macroscale in an endeavour to promote sustainable development across Africa.

The focus areas are among others: Developing Land, Sea and Air logistics (physical infrastructure) to improve the interconnectivity in the region; Setting the framework to enable Blockchain technologies and Artificial Intelligence to revolutionise trade (e-markets); and Boosting cultural & creative economy in promoting Made in Africa products.

The deliberations will eventually be presented to AfCFTA Secretariat and ECOSOCC for wider dissemination and in true spirit of the AU’s people centric consultation process. Following this first stakeholders workshop, “Business Boost Africa” is also expected to collaborate closely with the AfCFTA Secretariat to conduct other such workshops in different African countries based on the learnings of the premiere initiative in Mauritius.

Source: Republic of Mauritius