The implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area will drive the continent’s integration and prosperity ambitions, President Paul Kagame has said.
Kagame was speaking at the 13th Extraordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Government on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) where Heads of State and Government are deliberating the adoption of the decision on the start of trading under the regime.
The President said that the new trade regime will also be the primary portal through which Africa engages with its partners around the world on trade and investment.
“The Continental Free Trade Area is the lifeblood of our continent’s integration and prosperity. It will also be the primary portal through which Africa engages with its partners around the world on trade and investment. We must therefore work together continuously to protect and strengthen this pact for the sake of the generations that follow us,” Kagame said.
The Head of State commended African Ministers of Trade, the African Union Commission, and the new AfCFTA Secretariat for successfully overseeing the technical negotiations.
“The remaining negotiations should be completed as soon as possible in order to maximise the benefits of higher trade volumes for all of us,” he added.
Kagame called for continued commitment among countries and partners for successful implementation of the new trade regime.
“This is a collective achievement which could not have happened without the strong support of the African Heads of State and Government, who have remained steadfast throughout the journey. This level of commitment will continue to be necessary to sustain the agreement and make it successful,” he said.
The CFTA Secretariat is led by the recently appointed Wamkele Mene.
The AfCFTA aims to create an African market of 1.27 billion consumers with a cumulative GDP of around $2.3 to $3.4 trillion. 34 African countries have ratified the AfCFTA Legal Instrument while 54 out of the 55 AU member states have signed the agreement.
Rwanda is among the countries that have expressed readiness to commence trading under AfCFTA on January 1.