Acknowledging the positive transformation the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is set to make on African economies, the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) Regional Caucuses have hailed the Agreement while also putting forward strategies on how the PAP can accelerate the process.
The AfCFTA meeting was held on sidelines of the Sixth PAP Second Ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, “The Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area” in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023.
Deputy Chairperson of the lead Committee in the implementation of the AfCFTA, the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters, Hon McHenry Venaani, said while excitement on the AfCFTA is palpable, there was need to unbundle the agreement.
"The complex matter of the AfCFTA is the fact that there are more political questions that need to be unbundled than economic questions. The information on the AfCFTA is predominantly only known by us politicians and as long as this is the status quo, there is a misconnection with the populace. This is our starting point, we need to take the populace along with us, leaving no one behind," said Hon. McHenry Venaani.
Hon. Jaynet Kabila, Chairperson of the PAP Central African Caucus called for peace and stability within the African continent if the AfCFTA is to be successfully implemented.
"Security, peace and stability are prerequisites for the successful implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement. We must be mindful of these issues. We do want economic integration but the success of this hinges on peace and stability on the African soil," proferred Hon Jaynet Kabila.
Hon Alhagie Mbow, Chairperson of the West African Caucus said as part of the implementation strategies, the PAP should continue to push for the ratification of the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons.
"We cannot have proper trade when we still have restricted movement of people on the continent. Free movement of persons should be part of our strategy to implement the AfCFTA. As Members of Parliament let us go back to our countries and find out why we have not ratified the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons," said Hon Alhagie Mbow.
Hon Sen Azzeddine Abdelmadjid, North African Caucus Chairperson said the PAP should strategize on growing and nurturing small enterprises:
"We have a large informal sector. Therefore our strategies should include encouraging Member States of the African Union to support small to medium enterprises."
Hon. Amos Masondo, standing in for Southern African Caucus Chairperson called on African countries to rally around the revamping of road and railway infrastructure.
"The road and railway network as it is, will not bring any benefits for us. In order to move goods from one country to another needs a good transport network so as one of the strategies we need to revitalise the transport network," said Hon Amos Masondo.