Infrastructure development recipe for a successful CFTA – President Lungu

> Jeff Kapembwa

LUSAKA – Africa countries need to develop and strengthen infrastructure, promote value chains and co-operation in use of commonly used facilities including sea ports if the much espoused Continent Free Trade Area (CFTA) is to be realised, says Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

The African Union’ CFTA, which was mooted by African Heads of State in 2012 is planned to be launched later this year.

Through the CFTA, AU seeks to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union.

President Lungu has observed that it was cardinal that member states consider actively developing their infrastructure including sea ports, among others if the objectives of the CFTA are to be attained.

Other objectives for the initiation of the CFTA hinged on  further seeking to expand intra African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation regimes and instruments across Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

The RECs includes the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the East African Community (EAC) and across the continent in general.

Speaking during the World Economic Forum held in Durban last week, Lungu noted that while it was the desire for the continent to be intertwined into one CFTA umbrella and further aspire for growth of various economies, there is need for countries to pay more attention to the developing of the key tenets that form the cornerstone of the success of the CFTA and allow trade on the continent to growth as envisaged.

According to architects of the of the CFTA, the success of the CFTA would not only bolster markets but further result in the continent becoming an attractive investment destination spurred by Africa’s combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Lungu stated that it was against this background that African leaders needed to reflect and draw lessons from the exit of Britain, from the EU and consider the realisation of the CFTA in which all the 54-countries will come under one umbrella and ultimately accrue shared benefits.

Failure to do so could affect the prospects of developing as many countries could, if left out may consider looking elsewhere other than the CFTA, said the Zambian leader.

“We should be mindful that in an event of unequal sharing and distribution, some member states are likely to exit,” Lungu said during World Economic Forum on Africa held from May 3-5.

The forum, came on the heels of the exist by Britain from the EU, was used as a case study to assist African leaders to digest and plan the future of the continent.

African leaders also used the as a platform to share ideas, review what has happened, effects on the continent and lessons that could be learnt from Britain’s exit from EU and further allow Africa to “devise a home grown” trading front where goods and services could be traded equally and lacking barriers.

President Lungu, however, warned that with Britain existing the European block, there is need for African leaders to take decisive measures and mechanisms to ensure equality in the sharing of benefits from a successful CFTA.

“It is important that African leaders should be judged according to the levels attained in improving their infrastructure as well as driving their economic and industrial developmental agendas to avoid misgivings by those whose programmes could be slower than others and may have some unknown impediments frustrating their growth prospects,” said the president.

“Implementation of the continental free trade area can only yield good results, if we consider this status quo,” he said.

He called for collective efforts and the active involvements of all stakeholders, private sector included ensuring the success of the CFTA, which remains a yardstick for the growth of Africa.

WEF Chairperson Klaus Schwab noted that efficient institutions and trustworthy democracy are two factors that are critical to jump starting Africa’s undoubted economic potential. Professor Schwab also noted the need for accountable leadership that is responsive to the needs of the people. Other leaders that attended the forum included Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Macky Sall of Senegal and King Mswati of Swaziland as well as the host President Jacob Zuma.

May 2017
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