The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) says it is impressed with the progress the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has made on the continent, after three years of its inauguration.
ECA’s Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division, Stephen Karingi, said this on the sidelines of the 55th session of the Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“We are in the trading stage where money is being made, and the private sector is taking advantage of the opportunity AfCFTA has offered.
“For example, value-added coffee has been traded from Rwanda to Ghana. The coffee is traded by a company that supports women who produce coffee.
“Batteries have been traded under the AfCFTA from Kenya to other African countries. Tea traded from Kenya to other African countries come from smallholder farmers, which confirms that the AfCFTA is improving livelihoods.
“From last year to now, trading under the AfCFTA is underway and is putting money in people’s pockets in an inclusive manner, which includes small-scale traders and women,” he said.
He, however, lamented that only about 100 out of 4,500 products listed under the tariff headings were currently being traded under the platform.
On implementation, Karingi said strong progress had been made with the private sector maximising the benefits of the AfCFTA.
He said: “We have concluded the protocols that make the market function. And the investment policy, intellectual and property rights and competition policy have been endorsed.
“With intellectual property rights, countries can patent their products and extract more value. So far, 47 countries have ratified their instruments of the AfCFTA agreement.
“About 46 countries have ratified and deposited their instruments of ratification, seven countries have signed but yet to ratify, and only one country is yet to sign.”
On requirements for trading, the director explained that countries were supposed first to sign the AfCFTA agreement, ratify the agreement and deposit the instruments of ratification.
“The second stage is for the countries to gazette the AfCFTA certificate of origin, gazette the tariff book so that the customs at the border can recognize these goods and the certificate of origin,” he said.
On the pan-African payment and settlement system, Karinga said it was meant to allow countries to trade in their currencies.
According to him, the Pan African payment system is supposed to remove the stress of countries worrying about the cross-country exchange rate.
“In this case, the exchange of Naira to the dollar, Birr to the dollar or Naira. However, adopting the system will depend on whether the currencies are stable.
“This is because if you do not have the right macroeconomic fundamentals and convergence, then it cannot work,” he said.
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