The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat secretary general, Wamkele Mene yesterday congratulated Namibia on its excellent infrastructure, saying this is a solid foundation to benefit from the continental trade pact.
AfCFTA is expected to bolster Africa’s income by some US$450 billion (more than N$6 trillion) and lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty by 2035 if accompanied by significant policy reforms and trade-facilitation measures.
Visiting President Hage Geingob at State House yesterday, Mene made the remarks specifying Namport among his numerous visits in Namibia.
He said he is overwhelmed by how Namport supports landlocked countries in the region in trade facilitation that supports the implementation of AfCFTA.
Mene stated while 54 countries have signed up to the agreement, only 37 countries have ratified in terms of their national legislation to establish the continental free trade area. With the 37 countries, he noted that it makes it the fastest instrument in history to be ratified in the African Union, signaling political, and legal commitment.
For the agreement to succeed in implementation, Mene said the Secretariat needs to assure that all benefits are shared, and not only for countries already relatively industrialised. He further noted this as a unique opportunity to accelerate African market integration.
In efforts for fairness in the agreement, the AfCFTA Secretariat is establishing an adjustment facility, which will assist and target countries that are at the lower end of industrial development and productive capacity to transition in implementing the agreement. The facility will be funded by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
Another step to be taken is to focus on small, and medium enterprises (SMEs), which are led by women. Emphasising inclusivity in benefits, he urged that youth and women should have a leading role in the implementation of this agreement.
Mene added that he has been in conversations with commercial banks around the continent to encourage them to mobilise and pool resources for trade finance to support SMEs wanting to benefit under the historic agreement.
“We are at the cutting edge of technological advancement and we want the agreement to succeed, so we are creating opportunities for youth and women in trade. If we fail to include this segment of our community, the agreement will lose credibility and it is not going to be supported,” said Mene.
Also speaking at the same occasion, the trade minister, Lucia Iipumbu said Namibia is ready for the implementation of the agreement and is making all necessary efforts to gear up for its implementation. Iipumbu continued that Namibia is now working on an implementation strategy together with the action plan, believing the document should be ready by June 2021. “We have engaged the private sector, SMEs, and youth, and all precautionary measures are in place. I hope the full implementation will be realised before the end of the year as agreed,” Iipumbu said.