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Building an inclusive and sustainable Ecosystem for Boosting Intra-African Trade

15 January 2021

Press Release

“ Building an inclusive and sustainable Ecosystem for Boosting Intra-African Trade”

We Private Sector actors have decided to stand together to applaud the efforts of the African leaders who have collectively moved forward the African Union (AU) Decision to Boost Intra-African Trade and fast track the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area. It is the same historic decision of 2012 in its Action Plan that includes the creation of an African Business Council (AfBC) that includes all business associations at the national, regional, and continental levels, including women and youth. As the key beneficiaries and drivers of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation, the Africa Business Council is inclusive of and collaborating with all private sector organizations, including the AeTrade Group, The Pan African Manufacturers Association,(PAMA) the Pan African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (PACCI),PAFTRAC , The COMESA Business Council , the Federation of West Africa Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), The SADC Business Council ,the East African Chambers of Commerce and Industry Association (EACCIA) The African Alliance for Women Empowerment, Private Sector Associations, Business Councils across the continent,Large African Corporates as SMEs including women and youth to rebuild the African economy that has been devastated by the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 amongst other challenges. The business community further commends all AU Member States for speaking with one voice based on the nearly universal signature of the AfCFTA Agreement signed by 54 out of 55 countries, and the increased number of ratifications.

There are thousands of people who have contributed to the progress on the AfCFTA. His Excellency President Issoufou Mahamadou stands out as the Champion/Leader for the process, and he is highly commended for a job well done. He was able to mobilize the support of his peers to ensure that the Agreement has commercial value by bringing in the major economies on the continent, which collectively represent the majority of Africa’s population and Africa’s natural resources. The AfCFTA is about economies of scale, but it is more about harnessing opportunity and speed. That is why you need a platform to aggregate small production units to meet the demand for bulk production in the continental and global marketplace. The smaller economies stand to benefit as well especially through harnessing digital technologies to leapfrog and grow their economic base despite the challenges of Covid-19. The AfCFTA market is progressively eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers which will benefit nearly all economies, especially landlocked countries when it comes to trading in goods, movement of peoples and services.

Working in concert with the African business community, the AeTrade Group is ready to share the opportunity with the private sector to build institutional capacity to support the SMEs sustainable growth. The challenges of lack of finance, limited access to technologies and limited opportunities to foster intra-African trade amongst SMEs will be problems of the past. They have signed a compact to work together and to welcome other businesses into the fold to ensure that Sokokuu.Africa prospers and creates win-win opportunities for everyone. Noteworthy is that the prosperity of Sokokuu.Africa will result in tangible benefits for the African Business Council, the Regional Economic Committees, the AfCFTA Secretariat and the African Union Commission, which has been challenged with progress on domestic resource mobilization, especially from the Private Sector. Using Sokokuu incentive and successful private sector experiences in building community enterprises, we are ready to propose new business models to the African Union member states.

The success of Sokokuu will be measured in increased trade flows, diversified and inclusive economies, enhanced share of global trade and programmes funding transmitted directly to the institutional budgets to achieve these objectives. To make it clear, AeTrade Group commits to donate 10 percent of Sokokuu.Africa’s profits annually for the AfCFTA Secretariat, , Regional Economic Communities, African Union Commission departments and specialized agencies that directly impact on boosting intra-African trade and creating a strong “Made in Africa” Brand. This will commence at the end of 2021, and the funds will be available for the 2022 budget.

As a social enterprise, with long term goal of creating 5 million SMEs in 15 years and 80-125 million jobs, AeTrade Group wants to get started and it is aggressively moving forward with the stated objective of leaving nobody behind. A recent Africa Export Import Bank publication stated in a recent article, that the informal sector is one of the key drivers of opportunity in the AfCFTA market. This is indeed the type of insight that spurs the movement to formalize the informal sector, working with the AfCBC, AUDA-NEPAD, ACBF, research institutions, think tanks and African governments. It is this spirit of collaboration and shared prosperity which will be the driver for sustained private sector development. The African Union Commission, especially the role by Ambassador Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and Industry, is commended for his support towards the establishment of the AfBC. We consider him to be the real private sector Ambassador. Secretary General of the AfCFTA , Wamkele Mene, is welcomed by the African private sector for his vision and commitment to ensure that the AfCFTA places SMEs and the informal sector at the center of this huge emerging market.

“Public-private partnerships across the continent at national, regional levels and continental levels will be renewed and tested across all sectors, with every stakeholder playing a critical role. At the end of the day, Africa needs to industrialise, trade with itself, and generate jobs and tax revenue to be sustainable. We welcome the partnership extended by the African private sector organizations and thank them and invite them to work together in unison to achieve the objective the goals of a prosperous, integrated and peaceful continent- #The AfricaWeWant.” H.E. Mahamat Faki , Chairperson of the African Union Commission said.

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