To commemorate the implementation phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the Africa Business Council in collaboration with the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), Arab Organization of Industries (AOI), PAFTRAC, AeTrade Group, PAMA, CBC, FEWASSI, PACCI, EACCIA and African Alliance for Women Empowerment with AfreximBank held a torch lighting event to mark the operationalization of Agreement.

The event which sought to stir the consciousness of stakeholders on the significance of the agreement witnessed keynote addresses from African business leaders. The theme for the Physical and Virtual High Level Engagement was: From Cairo to Cape and from Lagos to Mombasa.

Dr Amany Asfour, Interim President of Africa Business Council (AfBC) said it was time for all Africans to come together for collaboration to see how African businesses can work together as partners of development to become economically independent.

Engr Mansur Ahmed, Chairman of Pan African Manufacturers Association (PAMA), Vice President Africa Business Council and President Manufacturers Association of Nigeria stressed that AfCFTA has the potential to open the door of collective prosperity for Africa. 

“It is our firm belief that despite COVID-19 and its many challenges, 2021 marks a new beginning for Africa as a    crucial participant in the new global economic order. In the fullness of time with the full maturation of AfCFTA, Africa could become the global manufacturing hub that will feed, clothe and service the needs of the global community.” He said.

Speaking on the provision for financial support to facilitate a smooth trade experience, President of AfreximBank, represented by Director AU, AfCFTA relations and Trade Policy AfreximBank, Mr. Yusuf Daya, said the Bank has and would continue to support the AfCFTA initiative as a way to deepen the integration for Africa. He further hinted that, to ensure that AfCFTA is a success, the Bank introduced a payment system that will guarantee smooth payment settlement and MANSA repository platform which was specially launched to mitigate the fear of money laundering and other fraudulent acts in doing business on a global space. Mr. Daya added that the platform will also help Africans enjoy easy access to investors who are willing to do business in Africa.

Mr. Sherif El Gabaly, Head of Africa Committee Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) said the agreement coming into effect is Africa’s dream come true in achieving a unified voice in the global economy. “This is the world’s largest Free Trade area in terms of number of countries involved” he stressed.

According to H.E Amb Soha AI Gindy, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for African Union and African Organization the lighting of Africa Trade Torch is a remarkable event to be well celebrated with coupled with a resolve to gain full consciousness of the challenges that may lie ahead.  He therefore urged Africans to be discipline in engagement and to approach the agreement with a sense of purpose to integrate the market. He stated that 20years from now, Africans should be able to look back in pride for taking the decision to engage in Intra African Trade.  More so, he emphasized the importance of having a place for African women and youths at the center of the agreement so that the future of the agreement can be assured.

Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, President of FEWACCI-ECOWAS and the Organized Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) also harped on the Inclusion of women in the AfCFTA implementation roadmap and the need support them to upscale. 

The Lighting of Africa Trade Torch for operationalization of AfCFTA held on Tuesday, January 20, 2021 in Cairo, Egypt to celebrate the start of trading of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and to serve as a means to popularize the AfCFTA among the people of Africa and the African Private Sector.

Segun Ajayi-Kadir,mni
Director General