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Experts propose advancing AfCFTA implementation as theme of the next Conference of Ministers

By United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
Economy & Investments ECA Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist, Hanan Morsy
MAR 3, 2024 LISTEN
ECA Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist, Hanan Morsy

The next Economic Commission for Africa Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (COM2025) will be held in Ethiopia in March 2025.

At the closing of the Experts Segment of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, on 1 March, the meeting proposed to hold COM 2025 in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on the theme, “Advancing the implementation of the Agreement Establishing the AfCFTA: Proposing Transformative Strategic Actions”.

In making the case for the theme, ECA Deputy Executive Secretary and Chief Economist, Hanan Morsy, said that inter-regional trade in Africa stands at only 13 percent, compared to 55% in Asia and 70% in Europe. Furthermore, we have witnessed disruptions in global supply chains due to global shocks, which has impacted on costs, trade flows, costs, and efficiency.

She stressed that Africa has an opportunity to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to break into supply chains that would not have been possible before. However, challenges remain in terms of regulatory reforms needed to advance the implementation of the agreement on non-tariff barriers, the high cost of doing business, political impediments and connectivity challenges.

Launched in 2018 by African countries, the AfCFTA is a free trade area to create a single continental market with a population of about 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of approximately US$3,4 trillion. The Agreement entered into force in 2019. At its full realization, the AfCFTA with the mandate of eliminating trade barriers, will bring together the 55 African Union member states.

Ms. Morsy said in proposing the theme on the AfCFTA, policy makers must consider the game changers for advancing the implementation of the free trade agreement which include developing and advancing cross border payments systems, high cost of transportation across Africa and using the AfCFTA agreement to advance the development of carbon markets.

Ms. Morsy said Africa was at the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and this was happening at a time the continent was grappling with challenges of limited internet access and poor infrastructure. It was critical for Africa to improve access to digital services and also address the skills and education gap.

“One of the things we can look to incorporate when we are talking about the AfCFTA is the need for regional integration to address the issue of food security and energy transformation,” said Ms. Morsy, noting that without addressing the huge energy gap, Africa cannot accelerate industrialization and address food insecurity.

The 2025 edition will bring together African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, governors of central banks, and entities of the United Nations system. In addition, it will include the participation of pan-African financial institutions, youth representatives, African academic and research institutions, development partners, intergovernmental organizations and other key stakeholders on an annual basis to engage and exchange views on the state of economic and social developments in Africa.

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