Kagame made the remarks yesterday as he addressed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Business. He noted that the Covid pandemic has delayed the start of trading and advised all to stay on course.
“Two years ago, we signed a historic agreement, and together wrote a new chapter in the story of African integration. The Covid pandemic has delayed the start of trading but we must stay on course,” he said.
Kagame revealed that doing more business with each other will be mutually beneficial for countries adding that it will also help to build the capacity to compete internationally.
“In Africa, we will start trading amongst ourselves in a few weeks. We need the private sector to be fully involved. That means, all of you gathered here with us today. We have to work closely together, to ensure the right frameworks are in place for the success of this process,” he noted.
“In addition, we must continue to communicate the benefits of free African trade to our citizens, especially, young people and mobilize them to remain engaged for the next phases of African Integration,” added Kagame.
The President also congratulated and welcomed Wamkele Mene , the new Secretary-General of the CFTA Secretarial and thanked the African Union Commission, for organising this Business Forum, which has become a tradition with each Summit.
A World Bank report released in December 2019 on the AfCFTA showed that the common market would benefit the African continent in different ways.
The African Continental Free Trade Agreement which was signed by 44 African countries on March 21st, 2018 in Kigali shows that a single market for goods and services across Africa will lead to poverty reduction. At least 30 million Africans (1.5% of Africans) will rise above the poverty line.
The report shows that 12 million people in West Africa, 9.3 million in Central Africa and 4.8 million in East Africa will rise above the poverty line. The AfCFTA has the potential of lifting 67.9 million Africans (3.6% of Africans) to middle income status by 2035. That is a $5.50 income per day.
The AfCFTA will connect 1.3 billion African citizens from 54 countries and is expected to generate $3.4 trillion annually. This trade bloc will improve Intra-African trade and definitely solve the problem of food import in Africa.
The Continental Free Trade Area was expected to start operating on July 1st, 2020 but was delayed due to Covid pandemic. The starting date has been extended to 1st January 2021.