Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretary General, Wamkele Mene on Tuesday, November 7, while addressing participants at Strathmore University in Nairobi, urged African Countries to tap into AfCFTA digital capacity to boost trade.
The Secretary General in his speech stated that, the current focus is on digitization. He also underscored the importance of Africa in advancing and deploying digital tools and skills.
“The focus is on digitization and how we can ensure advancement of our continent deploying digital tools and enhancing our digital skills to boost Intra Africa Trade,” Wamkele stated.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is one of the flagship projects of the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
It is a high ambition trade agreement, with a comprehensive scope that includes critical areas of Africa’s economy. They include digital trade and investment protection, amongst other areas.
In today’s interconnected world, digital trade has emerged as a powerful driver of economic growth and development. However, Africa’s rich resources and diverse economies still faces significant hurdles in intra-trade.
Despite the hurdles, AfCFTA has emerged as a transformative solution to address these challenges.
Its Digital Trade Framework is steadily becoming a significant tool that would help in streamlining customs. It will also help in fostering e-commerce, and enhancing connectivity across African nations.
Digital trade plays a pivotal role in resolving Africa’s inefficient logistics and transport infrastructure. By embracing digitalization, businesses can overcome physical barriers and navigate the challenges posed by inadequate roads and weak transportation networks.
During the event, Kenya’s President William Ruto, Trade Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano, US Ambassador to Kenya Meg Whitman, Vice Chancellor of Strathmore University Vincent Ogutu among others, were present.
AfCFTA Achievements in Digital Tools and Skills
According to the Secretary General, AfCFTA secretariat has deployed digital tools and skills to accelerate the integration of the content
“In May 1963, our founding fathers and mothers met in the historic city of Addis Ababa, with the principal objective of defeating colonialism, pushed by colonialists and as I always say with the defeat of apartheid in South Africa .
Our founding mothers and fathers arguably achived their objective exept one and that is the integration of our continent,” Wamkele stated.
Wamkele further stated that there is need to review the founding instruments of the organization of Africa Unity. These is important in establishing a single payment system.
The AfCFTA is working with the Afrexim Bank to introduce to heads of state the PAPSS. These will enable digital payment in local currencies wherever you are in the African Continent.
Kenya’s Push to Use Digital Tools
On the other hand, Kenya’s President William Ruto used the event to highlight Africa’s potential through AfCFTA
“I want to thank each and everyone of you for finding time to participate in these inaugural conference On Africa Continental Free Trade Area and engage with the most fundamental issues in terms of Africa’s overdue economic transformation,” Ruto stated
Ruto further added that Africa is currently the focal point of global Strategic discourse in terms of Trade.
“Africa at long last is emerging as a focal point of important Global strategic discourse with tremendous political security, environmental and most importantly economic implications,” he added.
Consequently, Kenya’s President advised Universities to step forward and be at the fore front in pushing trade and investment agenda.
The President noted that universities can design viable models that engage stakeholders, governments and regional economic blocs.
These will be important in developing policies that will spur inclusive and sustainable economic transformation in the continent.
Kenya’s Minister of Trade, Rebecca Miano noted that the AfCFTA will soon conclude the protocol on digital trade. These will be catalytic in proving the current figures of trade.
Some of the features of the protocol include payment system, data flows and data centers.