KIGALI – Africa’s private sectors need to accelerate efforts to unlock the potential trade opportunities lying within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), delegates attending the second edition of the Golden Business Forum in the Rwandan capital city of Kigali said Wednesday.
The GBF is an annual event organised by the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF) that serves as a catalyst for business development in Africa and between Africa and the rest of the world.
Since day one, significant efforts have been invested in accelerating the implementation of AfCFTA, and as of 2023, a total of 54 African countries have signed the AfCFTA agreement, and 46 of them have ratified it, said Monique Nsanzabaganwa, deputy chairperson of the African Union Commission, during the forum.
She said that the African business community is now more empowered than ever to enhance inclusion through AfCFTA at an unprecedented level.
“The private sector plays a crucial role in Africa’s sustainable economic growth, development, and job creation. We must intensify our efforts to foster innovation, develop local talent, embrace responsible business practices, and create a conducive continental business environment that promotes trade, eliminates barriers, and unlocks new opportunities,” said Nsanzabaganwa.
Speaking at the forum, Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze, Rwandan minister of trade and industry, highlighted that AfCFTA aims to establish a single continental market for goods and services, facilitating the free movement of businesspersons and investments, thereby paving the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union.
Ngabitsinze emphasised that in order to drive the continent towards leveraging opportunities within AfCFTA, the African private sector must expedite efforts and spearhead the continental free trade area agenda.
“Our aspiration is to witness cross-border investments flourish, safeguard, and promote unique African designs and cultural heritage across borders while maintaining a level playing field for our business persons and small and medium enterprises. It is essential that we channel our efforts into finding sustainable and innovative approaches that can propel us towards the full realization of the agreement,” he said.
Jeanne Francoise Mubiligi, acting chairperson of the PSF, affirmed the private sector’s significant role in Africa’s sustainable economic growth, development, and job creation during the forum.
“We need to redouble our efforts to nurture innovation, develop local talent, adopt responsible business practices, and establish a favourable continental business environment that fosters trade, dismantles barriers, and unlocks new opportunities within AfCFTA,” she added.
The annual forum, scheduled until Thursday, has brought together around 1000 delegates, including government officials, members of the private sector, policymakers, business executives, and industry leaders from across Africa and beyond, to discuss strategies for accelerating the AfCFTA agenda. - Nampa/Xinhua