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Okonjo-Iweala: Africa doesn’t have a choice… we must let AfCFTA work

Okonjo-Iweala: Africa doesn’t have a choice… we must let AfCFTA work
May 25
15:28 2021

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), says African countries must do everything to let the continental free trade area (AfCFTA) agreement work.

Okonjo-Iweala, said this on Tuesday at the UBA Africa Day Conversations 2021.

The AfCFTA, launched in March 2018, is a trade agreement between 54 AU member states, with the goal of creating a single, unified market for goods and services followed, facilitated by free movement and a single-currency union.

The implementation was postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.


“I really believe in the AfCFTA. I am proud our presidents have done this… though there are still logistical issues that prevent us from benefiting. Some parts of the continent are doing a lot better than others. We still have lorries lying up at borders,” the WTO DG said.

“In East Africa, they are doing a little bit better with movement across borders. That also means investment in infrastructure. We can make the movement of goods and people work better.

“We have this AU passport, so business people can get one and ordinary Africa can get so we can move easily across Africa. I am very hopeful.


“If we want the African continent free trade area to work, we must make good, services and people flow easily across borders. I am very hopeful, really hopeful.

“Lastly, we don’t really have a choice, if we want to change the tenor of growth in Africa, rely more on ourselves, and less on the outside, if we want to export and specialised more, to add value to our raw materials, we’ve got to make the AfCFTA work and the WTO is expectant and waiting to support the continent to make this work.”

On recovery of African economies, Okonjo-Iweala advised the continent on the need to solve health crises, get more fiscal stimulus into the economy, and revive the service sector — such as logistics and tourism.

“In the medium and long terms, we have to diversify our economy and take advantage of the Africa free trade agreement.”


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