African integration capable of stopping ‘boats of death,’ reducing poverty: AfCFTA secretary-general

Marwa Tawfik, Saturday 8 Oct 2022

African integration and trade liberalisation is capable of stopping African “boats of death” in the Mediterranean and reducing poverty in the continent, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Wamkele Mene said Friday.



Wamkele Mene made his remarks during a celebration marking the launch of the first commercial deal under the AfCFTA umbrella. The deal is part of the Guided Trade initiative launched at the AfCFTA 10th African Trade Ministerial Meeting on 7 October in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

"What we have reached now in African integration has always been a goal dreamed by the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity since 1963," Mene added.

The matter, Mene noted, is not only limited to free trade and the flow of hundreds of thousands of goods, but rather "an indication that we have a vision and we are able to achieve it and liberate our continent by linking its bonds to each other."

The initiative will also contribute to "stopping the boats of death that the Africans go to them and end up with the loss of their lives in the Mediterranean," he added, assuring that African integration should be a tool to reduce poverty and for the welfare of the people of the continent.

The secretary-general said it took five years of work under the leadership and support of the Ghanaian president, whose country hosts the headquarters of the organisation, to reach an agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area with rules of origin that govern entry to the African market.

The celebration included the inauguration of an exhibition of African products at Kotoko Airport as well as performances of the most famous dances and music from Ghanaian folklore.

The newly launched initiative included the launch of first shipments from between Ghana, Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tanzania within the framework of AfCFTA.

The shipments include 96 products, Mene added during Friday's event, expressing his hope that the number will double next year.

The initiative symbolises the beginning of commercially meaningful trade on a pilot basis between the seven nations that were selected to represent the five African Union regions, namely: Western, Central, Eastern, Southern and Northern Africa, respectively.

The AfCFTA, which seeks to boost intra-African trade, was ratified by 44 countries and came into force in May 2019 and is expected to be the largest free trade bloc in the world.


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