Rwanda spearheaded the Inter-Africa Trade agenda and hosted the Africa Economic Conference from 3-5 December 2018 in Kigali, running under the theme ‘Regional and Continental Integration for Africa’s Development’.
The annual conference aims to formalise the goals of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is working towards the creation of a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments. Some 44 nations from the African continent have signed the agreement, but so far only 12 countries have ratified it, but more are expected to sign before March 2019.
Giovanie Biha from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), spoke on the advantages of free trade area at the conference: “it’s time to ratify AfCFTA, the more ambitious the liberalisation, the higher will be the gains in terms of increase in GDP and exports .”
“Africa’s integration is no longer a choice. It’s a must for the continent and its people. To become the global player that it deserves to be, Africa should integrate speedily,” said Rwanda’s Minister of Economic Planning Claudine Uwera during the conference’s opening ceremony.
The conference was convened by the Africa Development Bank, African Union Commission, United Nations Development Programme and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Africa Development Bank’s Africa Visa Openness programme, aimed at encouraging free movement of people, was launched during the conference.
(Photo credit: ECA)