East African member states have dominated the list of countries that have domesticated the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) adequately to facilitate commencement of trade under the trading bloc’s framework.
Speaking during the launch of the Guided Trading Initiative on October 7 in Accra, Ghana, AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene said that so far three out the eight countries that have set the stage for trading under AfCFTA are from East Africa.
The Guided Trade Initiative facilitates trade under AfCFTA through matchmaking businesses and products for export and import between these interested state parties.
“I want to thank those countries that have expressed readiness to start trading under the AfCFTA. Those countries are Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Egypt, Mauritius, Cameroon and Tunisia. More and more state parties are expressing interest as they conclude the process of domesticating the AfCFTA in their law,” Mene said.
Kenya and Uganda have already undertaken trade under the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative with Kenya having exported exide batteries worth $77,000 on September 23 to Ghana following importation by Yesudem Company Ltd. Kenya made its second export under the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative on October 5 which consisted of tea exports to Ghana.
“In Kampala, there was a very successful trade fair where goods that are traded under the AfCFTA were being flagged off by the Prime Minister for export to Zambia. In Kenya, President William Ruto told me that all of the tea consignment that was being exported to Ghana had been produced by small-scale farmers and so there is a significant opportunity for small-scale,” Mene added.
Kenya’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Eliphas Mugendi Barine, says that whereas this is a step in the right direction, Africa still faces significant challenges in navigating logistical hurdles which present non-tariff barriers to the acceleration of trade under the Guided Trade Initiative.
“Logistics still remains one of the hindrances because moving goods within the continent is becoming a challenge. I just learned that the container that was launched for the tea export to Ghana from Nairobi will take six weeks to arrive in Accra. Six weeks is quite a long time and therefore we need to re-think matters infrastructure and logistics,” Barine said on the sidelines of the launch of the AfCFTA Guided Tourism Initiative in Accra.
AfCFTA has been billed as one of the interventions geared towards deepening the penetration of pan-African trade.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) places intra-African exports at 16.6 per cent lagging far behind Europe’s 68.1 percent and Asia’s 55 percent. The agreement establishing the AfCFTA was signed in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018.