The Africa Continental Free Trade Area has said that internal trading will earn Africa more than $70 billion development assistance.
The Chief of Staff of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Silver Ojakol, made the assertion at the 2023 Regional Integration Issues Forum which held in Accra, Ghana.
The RIIF is a sensitisation mechanism and an interface platform for stakeholders involved in regional integration and continental trade initiatives.
The 2023 RIIF aimed at increasing awareness of the AfCFTA and its benefits for SMEs as well as to strengthen SMEs’ capacity to engage in intra-African trade.
In a statement made available to our correspondent in Abuja on Thursday, the AfCFTA said large earnings would be initiated if the Small and Medium Enterprises collaborate and embrace the tenets of AfCFTA to overcome trade barriers.
Ojakol, who spoke on behalf of the AfCFTA Secretary General, Wamkele Mene, emphasised the importance of the AfCFTA for SMEs, noting that the agreement was not for big corporations.
“The agreement was designed and framed for the women and young men who on a daily basis face challenges across the continent when crossing neighbouring borders to trade in goods and services.
“If African countries came together and achieved just one percentage increase in trade amongst itself, we would earn $70 billion, which will be higher than the $58 billion given by donors as development assistance,” he noted.
Also, the Executive Director, Centre for Regional Integration in Africa, Prof Lehlohonolo Tlou, indicated the importance of capacity building and equipping SMEs with the requisite skills and knowledge to break intra-Africa trade barriers and produce what it needs.
Tlou emphasised that 60 years after the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union, intra-African trade is abysmally low at 16 per cent.
“Africa still produces what it does not consume and consumes what it does not produce.
“The 2023 RIIF conference was convened as part of measures to raise awareness of the benefits of the AfCFTA, build capacity for SMEs to access regional markets; and encourage SMEs to explore partnerships for establishing regional value chains,” he noted.
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