Dr Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), has said Africa can unlock its full potentials with the coming into force of its ambitious Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) framework.
She said the CFTA, when implemented effectively could meet the overall objective of doubling intra-African trade by the deadline set for 2022.
Dr Songwe said these in an interaction with African media on the sidelines of the two-day fourth Meeting of African Ministers of Trade (AMOT) in Niamey, Niger.
The objective of the meeting is to conclude the outstanding issues of the Modalities for Tariff Liberalisation that were adopted at the third Meeting of AU Ministers of Trade in June 2017 and consider the draft texts of the CFTA Agreement, protocols, annexes and appendixes, expected to come to fruition by the close of 2017.
She said the CFTA would unleash a vibrant and enlarged continental market expected to help attract more foreign direct investment for promoting African output and productivity.
On commitment of member States towards the success of the CFTA, she said over 90 percent of signatures have already been collected and expressed the hope that nothing would truncate this exercise from bearing the desired fruits.
Dr Songwe, also, a United Nations Under-Secretary-General, said the CFTA would consolidate and stimulate efforts towards creating jobs by continental governments, entrepreneurs and backed by the private sector and expects that the challenge of lack of infrastructure, finance and expertise would be addressed.
She prayed major actors on the continent would lead a more aggressive advocacy on the CFTA to gain the necessary impetus for an accelerated take-off.
Dr David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at the Economic Commission for Africa said CFTA would accelerate the dynamism of intra-African trade and reverse the abysmal continental trade performance towards self-sufficiency and way of doing business.
He said of the approximate 30 trillion global trade worth, Africa clocks a meager 3 percent, with intra-African trade averaging 16 percent, compared to 70 percent for Europe, 50 percent for Asia or Latin America.
He said the CFTA would redefine business models, which demands a change in the psyche of the mass population of Africa, reposition and tap into the new trend for increased production, productivity and wealth creation.