AfCFTA set to usher new era of progress in Africa: AU chairperson

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - NOVEMBER 15; 2018: President of South Africa Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa is talking to media at the end of an EU - South-Africa Summit meeting on climate change, migration to trade and security, in the Europa, the EU Council headquarter on November 15, 2018. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement signaled a new era of progress, African Union (AU) Chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday.

FILE PHOTO: African Union (AU) chairperson and President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosaduring a past event. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)

“The commencement of trading under the AfCFTA on the 1st of January is one of the most significant milestones in the continental integration project,” he said when speaking at the 13th Extraordinary AU Summit in which leaders gathered virtually to discuss the AfCFTA and conflicts among other issues.

Ramaphosa called on the private sector to be involved in this through investment in financial resources and infrastructure development.

He said the trade agreement which was a sign that the continent was ready to take charge of its development, would change trade within the continent and make it more attractive as an investment destination.

“The AfCFTA will boost intra-African trade, it will promote industrialisation and competitiveness and contribute to job creation, and it will unleash regional value chains that will facilitate Africa’s meaningful integration into the global economy,” he noted.

Ramaphosa said the AfCFTA would promote multilateralism.

“In the context of global developments on trade, including threats to multilateral system, the AfCFTA is more critical than ever,” he said.

He added that the trade agreement should also be used to empower women and to increase women’s access to trade opportunities.