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Africa rallied to expedite implementation of AfCFTA

Story by Tichaona Kurewa

THE 56th United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) conference is underway in Victoria Falls, with calls for the continent to accelerate implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

A flagship project of the African Union, the AfCFTA seeks to create a single, continent-wide market for goods and services.

The historic agreement is meant to boost trade within Africa, reduce reliance on imports, and unlock the continent’s vast economic potential.

In his opening remarks at the conference, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Deputy Executive Secretary, Mr Antonio Pedro, highlighted the need for a ready market as Africa transforms its economy.

“To transform our agricultural and food systems at scale, we must prioritise the development of regional value chains by de-risking investment and fast-tracking the implementation of the AfCFTA. These measures will help to insulate the continent from global food security shocks.”

Finance, Economic Development and Investment Promotion Minister and UNECA Committee of Ministers Chairperson, Professor Mthuli Ncube concurred, highlighting that the AfCFTA will give the continent an opportunity for synergies.

“It is high time we join hands as a continent and strengthen our existing regional trading blocs, such as the AfCFTA, to promote the free movement of goods and services within Africa. I call upon all Member States to remove barriers to all entry and exit points so that we create a single market for our goods and services that promote intra-African trade, as well as industrial development. I hope that the AfCFTA will make Africa more competitive in the global economy and that it will create jobs and increase economic growth across the continent.”

The conference is seeking ways to finance the transition to green economies in light of climate change and geo-political risks, among other factors.

Zimbabwe has officially taken over the chair of the UNECA Committee of Ministers for 2024.

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