MIDRAND – The President of the Pan Africa Council Chief Fortune Charumbira has urged all member states to embrace the tenets of the The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) saying its implementation will remove 50 million people from abject poverty.
Currently underway in Midrand, South Africa, on the side-lines of the ongoing Ordinary Session of the Sixth Parliament of the Pan African Parliament (PAP), the two-day workshop is aimed at discussing the African Free Trade Area and to define the role of the PAP in the effective implementation the trade agreement.
Speaking at the AfCFTA workshop official opening, Charumbira said AfCTA will increase Africa’s imports to the outside world as well as increasing intra-Africa trade by more than 100 percent.
He said the topic was not new since independence and what only changed was the terminology and something was not working well, which is the reason why there has not been changes.
“If we implement this, 50million people will escape extreme poverty. Africa export to the world would grow, and intra-Africa trade will expand by more than 100percent. We knew since we got independence that we needed to trade amongst ourselves but we were not doing that and that is the reason why this workshop has two days while others are only lasting for an hour. We need to see what has been blocking us from getting there,” said Charumbira.
He urged parliamentarians to contribute towards its success saying it was an important topic that is why the workshop has been given two days unlike other programmes which are given a few hours.
“As parliamentarians, we have been told that AfCFTA will bring prosperity to Africa. So our duty now is to establish the bottle necks and impediments towards achieving the Africa we want and then address them because this is the solution to our economic problems,” said Charumbira.
He said it addresses all African problems like unemployment, energy crisis, and fertiliser shortages in Agriculture will be a thing of the past.
Charumbira also said Africa had a challenge of not being proud of themselves and said once they address that problem, Africa will develop.
Speaking at the same event, president of the Africa Business Council Dr. Amany Asfour said if Africa wants to achieve the AFCFTA and the “Africa we want”, there was need for the private sector involvement.
“If we want to realise the African dream, the Africa we want, a prosperous, integrated, physically integrated Africa, we need the role of the private sector. Are we going to trade amongst ourselves when we are still importing goods from China, Dubai and other states?” she said.
She said African governments were supposed to legislate procurement of goods and services and make sure that a certain percentage of the procured goods and services are from African companies.
“One of our advocacy pillars is about having 40 percent of government procurement going to the African private sector, this is how we can empower the African private sector by this policy because it is not possible to have what is found on the African soil outside Africa, that is why we need at least 40 percent,” she said.
She went on to say there was need for investment in the health sector among other investment opportunities which Africa can explore to make sure that it is fully industrialised which she said was the only way to get the African dream a reality.
“AfCTA without industrialisation and investment will remain a dream but to make it happen and you your excellences present wield the power to make it happen. We as the private sector need your guidance. For instance in the health sector, according to WHO, 80 percent of African people are dying from cancer as compared to 24 percent in the west because we are not investing in health. Our people are going to India and other parts of the world to seek medical treatment and all that could end if we have a public-private sector engagement and deliberate on the matter,” she said.
In his presentation at the same workshop, Mohamed Ali who was representing AfCFTA Secretary General, said as an organisation they were happy and were relying on PAP support after which he urged PAP to continue rendering support which he said was key to making the dream a reality.