African leaders honoured for roles in creating continental free-trade zone
The AfCFTA created the world’s largest free trade area, a $3.4 trillion market that will ease trade across borders for the continent’s 1.3 billion people.
African leaders, including Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, were, today, honoured for their roles in creating the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The organisers of the awards said the honourees were being recognised for their “exceptional contribution to the AfCFTA process.”
The honourees also included the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshekedi, who is the incoming Chairperson of the African Union; President Ahmed Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt; Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia; President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana; President Alpha Conde of Guinea; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, the Chairperson of the African Union.
Also honoured were the Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Mukhisa Kituyi; and President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina.
“The AfCFTA created the world’s largest free trade area, a $3.4 trillion market that will ease trade across borders for the continent’s 1.3 billion people,” UNCTAD said in a statement sent to Financial Nigeria announcing the award for its Secretary-General. “It will also promote industrialization, create jobs and improve the competitiveness of African industries on the global stage.”
The statement said Kituyi was recognized for his exceptional contribution to the AfCFTA process, from supporting negotiations to offering technical advice.
Trading under the AfCFTA agreement, signed by 54 African countries, officially started on January 1, 2021, after the operational take-off was postponed from July 1, 2020, due to the acute disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The free trade agreement was signed in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018 and entered into force on May 30, 2019 when the minimum required 22 countries deposited their instruments of ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union.
After initial hesitation, on concern that the agreement could expose its local industries to dumping of goods produced outside the continent, Nigeria ratified its membership of the trading bloc on November 12, 2020. The country deposited its instrument of ratification of the agreement three weeks later on December 5, becoming the 34th member-state of the African Union to formally ratify the treaty.
The AfCFTA aims to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of persons and investments, to promote intra-Africa trade.
The awards were given at a ceremony held at the African Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event was organised by African E-Trade Group in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Business Council, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.
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