President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the continent can double intra-African trade by 2030, reduce the reliance on imports and also create more jobs within the continent.
He, however, warned that the goal cannot be achieved by just words.
Buhari spoke on Monday at the opening ceremony of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021 in Durban, South Africa.
During his speech, he canvassed support for the implementation of the free trade initiative and made in Africa products.
“Under the African Continental Free Trade Area, we can double our intra-African trade by 2030, reduce our reliance on imports and therefore create more jobs within the continent,” he said.
“We cannot achieve this goal by talking alone. The implementation will be a difficult journey. But all challenges are surmountable if both the public and private sectors collaborate.
“On the public sector side, governments must support local entrepreneurs to build scale and therefore improve productivity.
‘‘This means providing incentives to encourage our businesses to formalise and comply with laid-down regulations.”
Buhari also explained that most of Africa’s existing challenges ranging from security, economy or corruption can be traced to the continent’s inability over the years to domesticate the production of its most basic requirements and provide jobs to its teeming and dynamic youth population.
Noting that free trade must also be fair, Buhari said fairness can only be achieved when there is full compliance with regulations, especially those relating to rules of origin.
“The AFCFTA is for ‘made-in-Africa’ products and services. Africa must be a marketplace where no country is left behind,” he added.
“As we implement, we must ensure that we create jobs and enhance revenues for all parties. We must leverage on one another’s strengths to succeed.”
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