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Active private sector participation key to the successful implementation of the AfCFTA in Botswana

25 October, 2023
Active private sector participation key to the successful implementation of the AfCFTA in Botswana

Gaborone, 25 October 2023 (ECA) - The private sector, key to trade development in Africa, has been urged to actively participate in the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to accelerate national and regional economic growth and development.

Opening the National Consultative Forum on the Development of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation Strategy for Botswana, the Acting Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Dumizwani Mthimkhulu, urged the private sector in Botswana to brace themselves for implementation of the AfCFTA. The private sector should take advantage of the opportunities to grow their business through regional value chains and cross border trade under the AfCFTA which has a market size of over 1.3 billion people in Africa, alone.

“The role of the private sector in the implementation and full exploitation of the AfCFTA cannot be overemphasized,” Hon. Mthimkhulu said adding that the influence of the private sector includes even contribution to the development of the implementation strategy.

The National Consultative Forum on the AfCFTA was organized by the Government of Botswana for various stakeholders to deliberate and contribute to the development of a national strategy for the implementation of the Agreement. The National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy will complement the broader Trade Policy of Botswana by identifying key trade opportunities, constraints, and steps required to take full advantage of the trade agreement.

Minister Mthimkhulu said the Forum was opportune following Botswana’s ratification of the Agreement in February 2023 where the country committed to participate in the biggest trading bloc in the world after the World Trade Organisation.

“The development of the Strategy resonates with Government’s aspiration for economic transformation through mindset change and changing the way we do business, if we are to graduate the county to a high-income status by 2036, “said Hon. Mthimkhulu, highlighting that the development of the strategy has to be driven from a private sector perspective as the active users of the Agreement.

Minister Mthimkhulu said the AfCFTA will provide a wider access for Botswana’s exports while facilitating access to inputs and raw materials and provide consumers with a wide choice of products at competitive prices. For the business community, AfCFTA provides access to new and dynamic markets within the fastest growing economies in the continent which include Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya and Rwanda, for example.

In supporting implementation of the AfCFTA, Botswana has also joined 31 State Parties under the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI), a platform introduced by the AfCFTA Secretariat to fast-track trade under the Agreement. The GTI provides networking and connection between buyers and sellers from the continent to ensure trade takes place.  Hon. Mthimkhulu said so far 35 national companies have been ear-marked to participate in the initiative.

Minister Mthimkhulu commended the Economic Commission for Africa for its tireless support and financing of the development of Botswana's AfCFTA implementation Strategy.

Speaking at the same Consultative Forum, ECA Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa, Ms. Eunice Kamwendo, commended the Government of Botswana for successfully mobilizing national stakeholders to partake in the consultative forum.

Ms. Kamwendo said the broad, participatory consultation laid a foundation critical for the successful implementation of the agreement by state parties and commended the participation of the private sector, including MSMEs, youth and women-owned business representatives in the meeting.

Industry drives production and trade and creates jobs, Ms. Kamwendo said highlighting that Batwsana citizens will directly benefit from the opportunities created by a larger integrated market through the AfCFTA.

Ms. Kamwendo noted that the AfCFTA was a strategic framework of the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.

Set to create a single African market of 55 African Union member States with a market of more than 1,3 billion consumers and over $3.4 trillion in combined GDP, the AfCFTA will boost intra-African trade by 52.3 percent through tariff liberalization, particularly the elimination of import duties. Elimination of non-tariff barriers will increase real income by 7 percent if the AfCFTA is fully implemented.

For Botswana, the AfCFTA offers additional opportunities to boost the country’s ability to penetrate other markets on the continent with reduced tariffs. Through its membership to both Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Botswana is implementing regional economic integration programmes that contribute to the attainment of Africa-wide continental agendas and programmes.

Ms. Kamwendo observed that a recent World Bank (2020) estimates that full implementation of the agreement will increase real national income in Botswana by more than 5.4% by 2035 and export earnings by 37% which translates to new jobs, new economic opportunities and sustainable livelihoods for the burgeoning youthful population.

Meanwhile, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, Botswana, Ms. Seipati Olweny in her speech during the Media Sensitization and Capacity Building session on the AfCFTA advised that the media is a critical partner in helping all stakeholders, including the private sector, cross border traders, governments and vulnerable groups across Botswana and the general citizenry appreciate the benefits of the AfCFTA. It helps spur interest and participation in this important trade Agreement. Ms. Seipati Olweny noted that a well-informed media plays a major role in ensuring that the information on the AfCFTA is disseminated to the public accurately for informed decision making. 

The sensitization and capacity building workshop aimed to enhance the technical ability of the media in Botswana to report on the goings on the AfCFTA at both national and continental levels including how on national stakeholders can optimally benefit from the Agreement. The views and recommendations from the Consultative Forum will inform the drafting of Botswana’s National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy and Action Plan.

Issued by:

The Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
P.O. Box 30647, Lusaka, Zambia.

Media Contacts:
Mr Bedson Nyoni
Senior Information Management Assistant
Economic Commission for Africa Office for Southern Africa (ECA-SA)
Cell: +260 97 784 5948
Email: /

Mr Johannes Visagie
Public Relations Officer
Ministry of Trade and Industry
Mobile : +267 76 002 834
Email : /