The 7th edition of the Africa CEO Forum, the largest international meeting of Africa’s private sector, has called on regional leaders boost their efforts in enhancing peace and security in order to driver cross-border investments.
The event kicked off in Kigali, Rwanda this week. More than 1,800 leading decision-makers from industry, finance and politics, came from more than 70 countries to discuss regional integration along with other key topics for the development of Africa’s businesses.
The affair comes a time when intra-continental trade remains too weak. As part of the event, Africa’s most influential business leaders have decided to come together and make their voices heard.
Their goal is to make the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) a powerful driver for private sector growth and the emergence of new African champions.
“Nobody is questioning whether the African Continental Free Trade Area is the right way to go or whether it is going to give us benefits,” said Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame in his opening remarks.
“It is the only way to go if we want to maximise on the opportunities for the benefit of our continent. But we have to make it work and we know how.” “It is our responsibility to ensure that deeper integration translates into prosperity and well-being for our people. As long as women face unnecessary obstacles in using their talents to the full we will continue to pay a heavy price in terms of lost wealth.” he added.
During the first panel of the day, key business and political leaders addressed challenges associated with intra Africa trade.
“As much as we concentrate on political issues, as a region we all have the same bold ambition which is for our countries to make constant progress but it can’t be done without peace and security,” commented Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde.
According to Carlos Lopes, Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town, it takes up to 700 hours to process trade documents in some African states.
“Where is the urgency to reduce this? The cost of transportation from one country to another country is really brutal,” he argued.
He noted that it takes much more to transport good from Rwanda to Mombasa than it costs from Mombasa to China.
“We have done very well as a continent and economic region in terms of the time it took to sign AfCFTA, compared to other regions in the world that took on average 10 years to concretize such trade treaties,” he concluded.