The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is crucial for the continent’s economic development and growth. But without a comprehensive information campaign, it may be difficult for such an important trade initiative to benefit those who need it the most—farmers and small businesses—argued Amujae Leader Bogolo Kenewendo.
Writing in Project Syndicate, Ms. Kenewendo pointed out that AfCFTA could significantly boost intra-African trade and reduce the continent’s trade deficit with the rest of the world. However, as very little information about it is trickling down to farmers or micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, its benefits could be hard to attain, she warned:
“If a large share of consumers, entrepreneurs, and businesses are unable to keep up with developments relating to the AfCFTA or participate in discussions about how it should develop, the agreement will start to look like yet another initiative that helps only the privileged few.”
In the article, Ms. Kenewendo shared her belief that African governments must reach out to all stakeholders to provide them with easily accessible information on how to take advantage of AfCFTA opportunities.
Urging the AfCFTA secretariat to use “plain and accessible language” to explain the benefits of this trade agreement for businesses and consumers alike, Ms. Kenewendo said:
“A coffee farmer in Harar, Ethiopia, must understand both that they have a potential market in Botswana, with its developing coffee culture and large middle class, and how the AfCFTA can help them access it.”
She also argued that African governments and organizations, such as the African Union and the African Development Bank, must support the AfCFTA with inclusive growth, sustainable development strategies, and infrastructure investments. The principle of African unity must underpin such measures, she added:
“African governments, societies, and institutions must embrace the principle that all Africans share a common history and a common destiny. This will go a long way toward accelerating the AfCFTA’s implementation and maximizing its benefits.”
Read the full op-ed here.