Kenya and Rwanda are eyeing the West African market with Ghana becoming the next partner for both countries under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
On Wednesday, Kenya’s President William Ruto flagged off Kenyan tea to Ghana. He was with AfCFTA secretary-general Wamkele Mene.
Last week, a consignment of Kenyan batteries worth $77,000 was received in Tema Port, Ghana in a historic ceremony that marked Kenya’s first exports under the AfCFTA agreement.
“When we began the journey to consolidate the market in Africa, and provide the infrastructure using the AfCFTA statute, it looked like it was a dream but today we are living that dream as a reality,” said President Ruto.
“This event today marks the first step in a journey that will liberate our continent from export of raw materials to the rest of the world to the export of processed, manufactured products not just in our continent but to the rest of the world.”
And this week, Rwanda exported coffee products to Ghana as part of the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative.
Kenya is among six countries selected to participate in the pilot phase of the AfCFTA Initiative on ‘guided trade’. Others are Rwanda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt and Mauritius.
“What Kenya and Ghana are doing is to give commercial meaning to the whole project which we all stand in the African Union, the project of integrating our market, our economy as a continent and placing our continent to global competitiveness one day,” said Wamkele Mene, secretary general of the AfCFTA.
“The display we have seen here in the packaging (Ketepa) is value added production for Africa to trade in industrial products, to create opportunities to uplift millions of people out of poverty, for SMEs industrial products and for young people.”
Mr Mene recalled that in 2015, the African continent exports recorded $6 million worth of unprocessed tea and coffee, thereby making huge losses for failure to include value addition.
“The global market for coffee and tea is estimated to be over $100 billion. The processing and repackaging is done elsewhere outside our continent and you can see the losses in the value chain. And so today is the beginning of reversing that trend which has sustained in the last 60 years or so,” said Mene.
“Another example that disturbs me is that in 2019 our continent imported $6 billion worth of pharmaceutical products but those components that make those pharmaceutical products that we import from the rest of the world are made in Africa. They are here in Africa.”
He added, “Our capacity as a continent to industrialise and accelerate our opportunities in terms of global competitiveness I believe starts today with this initiative. On Friday Cameroon, Tunisia, Egypt and Mauritius will follow, and will also be trading in manufacturing.”
Outgoing Trade Minister Betty Maina said Kenya was eyeing other export markets in Africa.
“We have identified other markets in Mauritius, Egypt and Cameroon, of products which we will be piloting under this initiative,” said Ms. Maina.
“This pilot’s initiative of guided trade under the AfCFTA has been preceded by preparations in our country. Our trade facilitation agencies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority, and Kenya Bureau Standards and others have all aligned themselves and have prepared the necessary documentation to support this initiative.”