Africa should leverage its human capital and technological potential in order to accelerate the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an official has said.
Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) said Africa’s challenges can be resolved by leveraging on the visionary and committed leadership, the youths, and digital technology.
He noted that the youth remain a necessary cog in the implementation of intra-continental trade and commerce, hence this year’s annual meeting to the theme “Realizing the AfCFTA Potential in the Post-Covid19 Era—Leveraging the Power of The Youth”.
“As the youth are technology savvy, and we believe that it is technology that will bring down the borders that divide us, the Digital AfCFTA dubbed the African Trade Gateway being developed in collaboration with the AfCFTA Secretariat offers a window for market access, cross-border payment through PAPSS, Customer Due Diligence, and e-logistics services, among others,” Oramah said as during his opening remarks at the 29th Annual Meetings of Afreximbank.
The 2022 Afreximbank Annual Meetings which run through Saturday June 18, 2022, are being held under the theme ‘Realizing the AfCFTA Potential in the Post-Covid-19 Era by Leveraging the Power of the Youth’.
Sessions include the meetings of the Advisory Group on Trade Finance and Export Development in Africa and the annual general meeting of shareholders of the Bank, complemented by a full programme of seminars and plenaries featuring insights from senior government ministers, senior executives of international and continental organisations and authorities, captains of industry, and leading economists, amongst others.
The meetings are being attended by business and political leaders, banking industry professionals, trade and trade finance practitioners and other parties involved in economic development from across Africa and beyond. The Meetings have been ranked among the most important gatherings of economic decision makers in Africa.
The meetings focus on key trends affecting the African continent as it forges ahead with implementing the AfCFTA in a changing demographic that is grappling with post pandemic stagflation.
The free trade area — which was operationalised in January last year — is an initiative to liberalize goods and services and promote free movement of capital and natural persons among 55 member states of the African Union covering a market with a combined GDP of about $3,4 trillion.
Oramah said the youth will be the catalytic force to the realisation of the continental agenda.
“Indeed, the youth have always been the catalyst to economic transformations and at the base of every industrial revolution in advanced economies. It is no coincidence that at the height of each Industrial Revolution, youth constituted the largest proportion of the labour force and population,” he noted.
The 2022 Afreximbank Annual Meetings seek to explore the urgent need to harness continental resources to build back better and stronger and to create institutional structures to improve the continent’s resilience to global shocks as we pursue youth-led structural transformation.
Oramah highlighted the need to prioritise the continent’s culture and creative industries, as they hold the potent force for accelerating continental integration and are predominantly youth-based.
“Whether a youth-powered AfCFTA will trigger a continental economic explosion or whether the next decades will become “Lost Decades” for Africa will depend on how we creatively deploy the energies and talents of the continent’s youth to implement the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. We are happy that a Protocol on the Youth will be negotiated under the AfCFTA. That will provide a great opportunity to formalise the integration of the Youth into the continent-wide agenda,” he said.
He implored delegates to aim to produce concrete policy recommendations that will assist in stepping up the implementation of the trade agreement – Cairo