Rwanda and its regional counterparts are seeking deeper partnerships with other African nations in order to boost the continent’s manufacturing sector.
The landlocked East African nation held a Trade Facilitation and Manufacturing forum in Kigali this week, and called on neighbouring countries to help drive industrialization efforts across the region.
The event marked the 22nd Meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts of the Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa (ICE 2018).
“Industrialization is certainly the key to Africa’s economic development with the ability to bring prosperity, new jobs and better incomes for all,” commented Raymond Murenzi, Director General for the Rwanda Standards Bureau.
While Africa has increased its aggregate trade volume, the share of intra-Africa trade remains stagnant. In 2016, intra-African exports made up 18% of total exports, compared to 59% and 69% for intra-Asia and intra-Europe exports, respectively.
According to Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, increasing intra-African trade is vital for the achievement of the sustainable development goals and most importantly the development of robust economies that can create jobs and wealth for the continent. We have seen the push at the continental level to create a single African market and remove the trade barriers that have severely limited intra African trade.
The Ministry believes that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is the first flagship project of the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 and a key initiative in the industrialisation and economic development of Africa. It is an ambitious endeavor spanning 55 member states across a diverse continent.
The AfCFTA is expected to generate significant economic opportunities. For millions of people across the region.
Empirical analyses of the AfCFTA estimate that intra-African trade will increase by 52.3% ($34.6 billion) by 2022. The data estimates positive long-run impacts, with the AfCFTA boosting Africa’s welfare by 2.6% by 2027.
In order to achieve these goals and the vision articulated in AfCFTA, Rwanda’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, along with its United Nations partners, agree that African countries will have to make a concerted effort in addressing both the tariff and non-tariff barriers that have and continue to hinder trade, investment and growth.
They affirmed that the AfCFTA and other WTO related reforms will deliver the tariff changes sought however the more difficult are the Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) which require a more concerted and focused approach to harmonised approach to eliminating NTBs.
Agreeing on the same was Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha, who told delegates at the ICE event that for Africa to reach new heights of progress, more collective efforts were needed.
She added that the ECA was currently supporting member States in their efforts to make the AfCFTA a reality.
Speaking at the ICE forum this week, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Richard Sezibera called for regional integration. He discussed how to efficiently implement the AfCFTA in Eastern Africa.
This year’s edition of ICE focuses on macroeconomic and social conditions in Eastern Africa. Its key mandate is the actualization of the AfCFTA, which is expected to boost trade facilitation, create employment opportunities and make Africa one of the most competitive regions on the globe.