-by our correspondent.
The Pan-African Private Sector, under the umbrella body of the African Business Council (AfBC), says the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) presents enormous business opportunities for the continent’s private sector, SMEs, Women and Youths as the continent moves towards boosting cross border trade.
In a statement, the Interim Vice Chairman of the Council who is also the President of The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Mansur Ahmed, said AfCFTA would help grow the participating countries private sectors through increased manufacturing, distribution, transportation and health eco-systems activities among others.
In his words, “It is a new year, and new opportunities are emerging. As manufacturers, traders, farmers, transporters, shippers, Women Business Associations and Youths, here is our time. Let us go out there and grab the opportunities. It is time to feed Africa through agriculture, manufacturing and promoting value chains. It is only through a united voice that we can have transformation in Africa”.
Interim Vice Chairman, AfBC, / President MAN, Mansur Ahmed
“The AfCFTA gives us an opportunity to drive our agenda. For many years, the African business community has been individualistic in driving the continent’s agenda. It is an opportunity for us as the African Business Council to come together and support the implementation of the AfCFTA. We are a united voice, and we can do this together,” the Interim Chair Person of AfBC, Dr. Amany Asfour, said.
According to the statement, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, is also excited over the start of business under the AfCFTA while noting that proliferation of Non-Tariff Barriers in Africa has often hindered intra-Africa trade. “It is difficult to move cargo among African countries, and the online system on the monitoring, reporting and elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers will assist in the implementation of the AfCFTA”, Mohammed said.
The statement noted that the President and Chairman of AFREXIMBANK, Professor Benedict Oramah, has also expressed the readiness of African Export and Import Bank, to support the implementation of the AfCFTA, through the Pan-African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS). “The PAPSS is one of the greases that will oil the engines of the AfCFTA” Professor Ormah said.
Interim Chair Person of AfBC, Dr. Amany Asfour
According to the Executive Director for the International Trade Centre, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, “Reliable trade information is central to the implementation of the AfCFTA, and the African Trade Observatory (https://ato.africa) is available for the Business community to make use of. It will provide real time market information on the AfCFTA, as well as assist policymakers in making informed decisions”.
The African Business Council is the apex body on the promotion and lobby of the Pan-African Business interests. The membership to the AfBC is open to national, regional and continental private sector organizations/associations. It is an independent private sector institution of the African Union
With the commencement of the start of trading, the AfBC is working earnestly to constitute greater support of the AfCFTA by the continental private sector while actively engaging African policy makers on any recommendations and concerns expressed by the sector. It is expected to hold its first general assembly in 2021.