Two Ethiopians Join as AfCFTA Secretariat Forms Advisory Council

ADDIS ABABA – Two Ethiopian experts added as members as AfCFTA Secretariat inaugurated a trade and industrial development advisory council on Friday.

The council is tasked to provide advice on trade integration and transformative industrialization as part of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), said the secretariat.

Effective as of mid-2021, the AfCFTA is expected to boost trade among African countries while allowing the continent to realize its industrial development through diversification, and value chains.

“This is imperative given the low levels of investments in industrial production, which is also a major contributor to the low percentage of intra-African trade,” said the Accra-based secretariat.

Africa has 17% of the global population and fastest-growing middle class but only accounts for 2.1% of global trade and 3% of the world’s GDP.

To expedite the Secretariat’s mandated role of overseeing the implementation process of the agreement, its Secretary General Wamkele Menen inaugurated the 14-member Advisory Council on Friday.

The inauguration came weeks after his proposal was endorsed by African Union leaders during their Summit in Addis Ababa earlier this month.

The secretary general added two Ethiopian experts, Dr Arkebe Oqubay and Dr Taffere Tesfachew, as members of the advisory council, according to the secretariat.

Dr Arkebe is currently serving as a Senior Minister and Special Adviser to the Prime Minister Office of Ethiopia. He has also been at the center of policymaking for over 30 years.

Dr Taffere, on the other hand, is an international consultant on trade-and development-related issues to various institutions, and served as the director of the Division on Africa and Least Developed Countries at the UN’s trade and investment agency UNCTAD.

The Council also involves experts from South Africa, Nigeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, and Zimbabwe with a lot of working experience in various international and regional institutions mostly in trade and industry areas.

They will be responsible to advise the administrative organ tasked by African leaders to coordinate the implementation of the continental free trade deal.

Every African country except Eritrea has signed on to the AfCFTA framework agreement, and 41 have ratified the deal that aims to bring together 1.3 billion people in a $3.4 trillion economic bloc. The World Bank estimates the deal could lift tens of millions out of poverty by 2035.