ADDIS ABABA – African sub-sovereign governments called on to play their full role in facilitating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The call was made at the second edition of the African Sub-sovereign Governments Network (AfSNET) conference, held on 30 September 2022 in Abuja, Nigeria.
Financial institutions, investors, and representatives from African countries including Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, and Niger attended the conference.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who presided over the meeting, said the AfSNET initiative, “if properly harnessed, is a significant step for Africa to begin carving its own niche in the global value chain, from the constituent units up.”
“This complements broader programs such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which remains one of the most strategic pan African agendas to deliver inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.
The President called upon the leaders of African Sub-Sovereign Governments to accelerate their involvement in facilitating the implementation of the free trade pact.
The AfCFTA aims to unite 1.3 billion people across 55 countries, creating a $3.4 trillion economic bloc that could usher in a new era of development.
The pact has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures.
“I am firmly convinced that with the right collaborative action, we will be able to record a much stronger pace of transformation,” President Buhari said.
“Through shared knowledge, innovation and creativity, we will be better able to cater to the needs of the African continent’s population of over 1.4 billion people.”
The African Sub-sovereign Governments Network was launched by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) during an inaugural conference held on the sidelines of the Intra-African Trade Fair in 2021, with the mission of promoting peer learning, cooperation, and collaboration among sub-sovereign governments.
The second conference last week saw the adoption of an institutional and governance framework for the Network.
“AfSNET is expected to fill an important void because it recognizes that whereas trade and commercial policies are national, their implementation is usually sectoral and local,” said Benedict Oramah (Prof.), President of the Afreximbank.
“Involvement of regional and local governments will make it possible for the full benefits of the AfCFTA to be realized,” said Oramah, pledging the commitment of Afreximbank to support AfSNET through various other products and initiatives to facilitate intra-African trade
Afreximbank has disbursed over $20 billion in the 5 years to 2021 in support of intra-African trade and is on the way to doubling this to $40 billion in the next 5 years, as per the president of the bank.