Stakeholders on the continent have reiterated the importance of implementing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Africa.
They spoke at a conference organised by ECA in partnership with the AfCFTA Secretariat and the United Nation’s Development Project (UNDP) in Nairobi, Kenya.
The conference theme is titled, “AfCFTA Implementation Strategies: Towards an Implementation Peer Learning Community.”
Dr Stephen Karingi, Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA), Director, Regional Integration and Trade, emphasised the transformative potential of the AfCFTA for the continent.
“The AfCFTA holds the promise for our continent to overcome the colonial legacy of small and fragmented markets.
“And replace them with a single market of over 1.4 billion people with a collective GDP close to 3 trillion dollars
“However, the realisation of this promise hinges on the effective implementation of the commitments undertaken by AfCFTA State Parties,” he said.
The director called on AfCFTA state parties to adopt an urgent and expedited approach to implementing AfCFTA strategies.
He said: “implementation is primarily a national responsibility. Therefore, governments must also be ready to finance complementary policies and investments, especially from domestic resources, for its success.”
“This will foster the much desired diversification of African economies, creating resilience to withstand economic, health, and food security shocks.”
He said ECA had supported over 30 countries and two regional economic communities (RECs) to develop and validate their national/regional AfCFTA implementation strategies.
He said four other countries and three RECs were at advanced stages in the development of their strategies with ECA’s support, while a further 13 were at the early stages of the process.
Similarly, Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, and Minerals, described AfCFTA as a “launchpad” for deeper continental integration.
He envisioned the conference as a platform to fast-track policy innovation and facilitate dialogue on investment flows to Africa.
Meanwhile, Stephen Jackson, UN Resident Coordinator for Kenya, commended the idea of a peer-learning platform on AfCFTA implementation.
Jackson said: “if we fail to maximise the opportunity to knit Africa together economically, then we will fail the Sustainable Development Agenda, leaving large populations within large parts of the continent behind.”
Joseph Rotich, Acting Director for International Cooperation in the Kenyan Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, also reiterated the importance of AfCFTA.
According to Rotich, the AfCFTA’s success depends on transparency, active participation, and a willingness amongst Africans to learn from one another and to adapt.
Also, Prudence Sebahizi, Director of Institutional Matters and Programmes Coordination at the AfCFTA Secretariat, emphasized the crucial role of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in connecting national efforts and fostering regional trade.
Sebahizi, speaking on behalf of Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, also commended the idea of a peer-learning platform.
He said future initiatives would be conducted through a formal platform established by the AfCFTA Council of Ministers in the form of the Committee of Focal Persons representing National AfCFTA Implementation Committees.
The conference concluded with a unanimous agreement to raise awareness among the private sector about AfCFTA, involving more SMEs, women, and youth.
“The commitment is clear: systematically involve the private sector in AfCFTA strategy development, ensuring a comprehensive approach to continental economic transformation.
“AfCFTA implementation strategies play a crucial role in translating continental commitments into national laws, regulations, and administrative processes.
“It provides practical guidelines and roadmaps to unlock emerging opportunities in the integrated African market,” the experts agreed.