Addis Ababa, 10 March 2021 (ECA) – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is to support the government of Botswana to develop its African Continental Free Trade Area’s (AfCFTA) national implementation strategy, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said today.
He made the disclosure in an address to the virtual Africa private sector summit on strategic opportunities for doing business in Africa. He said the AfCFTA presented a great market access to the larger Africa and would stimulate industrial development, strengthen investment and create job opportunity in line with Botswana’s long-term Vision 2036 which aspires to transform it from a middle-income country to a high-income country.
The agreement will also provide a platform for Botswana’s small, medium and micro enterprises to integrate into the regional economy, accelerate women’s empowerment as well as facilitate youth and growth in the service sector, the president said.
The AfCFTA “will accelerate our industrialization efforts, it will support the diversification of our export base, it will lead to the creation of sustainable employment, especially for our youth and therefore derive benefit from the youth dividend and eradicate abject poverty on the continent,” he said.
While admitting that the private sector would play a leading role in the implementation of the trading bloc, he said businesses alone could not be effective without the support of African governments.
The AfCFTA provides an opportunity for Africa to create the world's largest free trade area with the potential to unite more than 1.2 billion people with a gross domestic product of more than $2.5 trillion which is expected to usher in a new era of development. Trading under the pact commenced on 1 January this year after a postponement for six months as a result of the pandemic.
It has the potential to generate a range of benefits through supporting trade creation, structural transformation, productive employment and poverty reduction. It will also constitute a significant milestone towards the realization of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for the socio-economic transformation of the continent.
The ECA, through the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), has been working with the African Union Commission (AUC) and member states of the AU to deepen Africa's trade integration and effectively implement the agreement through policy advocacy and national strategy development. The ECA also works with the International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and independent trade experts with the financial support of the European Union to assist with the implementation of the agreement.
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