‘How Africa can deploy CFTA in removing trade barriers’
An industrial policy aimed at strengthening African nations’ capacity in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating appropriate strategies to facilitate the structural transformation of the continent’s economies is key, as preparation for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) commences, experts have said.
According to the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning (IDEP), the need to green Africa’s industrialization as a way of achieving sustainable and inclusive growth remains a major challenge that should be addressed.
IDEP Director, Karima Bounemra Ben Soltane, said more needs to be done to empower senior civil servants working on policies that impact Africa’s socio-economic development.
“Industrial policies, she said, should not only consider local issues but also regional value chains and cross-border cooperation, among others”, she added.She spoke about the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) which is expected to be in place by October 2017, bringing together 54 African countries with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than US $3.4 trillion.
With the CFTA, African leaders aim to, among other things, create a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of business persons and investments and expand intra-African trade. The CFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels.
“Our philosophy of development should be revamped as we yearn for competitiveness at the industry and enterprise levels,” said Ms. Soltane, adding the diversity of participants attending the course had enriched discussions on Africa’s industrial policies.
On its part, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) noted that representatives from its Statistics Division and the Trade Negotiations and Commercial Diplomacy Branch will be in Niamey, providing technical input to support the process in areas such as mapping of intra African trade flows in both goods and services, analyses of regulatory frameworks that support pro-sustainable development engagements in trade in services and a dispute settlement model adaptable to the African context.
UNCTAD stated that its Secretary General Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi has been steadfast in his support for deeper African trade integration as an opportunity for Africa to meet its structural transformation objectives and to multiply the gains of trade-led growth.
Course Director, Mr. Babatunde, said following the structural adjustment era of the 1980s, no industrial strategy had been concretely put in place on the continent.
“It is high time that we as a continent start to build a new generation of leaders to deal with these issues efficiently if we are to structurally transform our economies,” said Mr. Babatunde.
“No-one will come from outside to do this for us. Africa needs to industrialize and so we should step up to the plate and take the reins.”He said Africa should invest in more efficient private and public sector initiatives and come-up with sound industrial policies, adding there was also an urgent need to boost domestic resource mobilization within member States.Babatunde added industrialization, let along green industry, remained a challenge for the African continent.