NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) could help African economies recover from the impact of COVID-19.
This is according to the director of regional integration and trade at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Stephen Karingi who says boosting intra-African trade can serve as an alternative stimulus package for job creation, foreign exchange, industrial development and economic growth.
Karingi added that if Africa had implemented agreements and frameworks such as the AfCFTA, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, African economies would have been more diversified, stronger, and less affected by COVID19.
The trade expert noted, however, that COVID-19 has proven that African countries can adapt and respond to demand.
He emphasised the need to maintain the AfCFTA momentum and ambition that existed before COVID -19.
This, he said, will enable Africa recover and build long-term resilience. David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, reiterated the need for Africa to diversify its sources of supply chain, stating “even developed countries that depended on only one or two countries for critical parts of their supply chain are now talking about localising production.”
He noted that COVID-19 has shed light on the underdeveloped status of African supply and value chains and that supply chain diversification fits very well into the industrialisation agenda that Africa already has.
“We need to think creatively about how our existing development frameworks could be adapted to emerging opportunities generated by this crisis,” he underlined.
Karingi said COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of digital technologies and that “Member States should consider front-loading negotiations on e-commerce to coincide with the closely linked phase II negotiations of the AfCFTA.”