Egypt’s Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly virtually attended, on Saturday, the African Union’s (AU) 13th extraordinary summit on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is being hosted by South Africa.
Madbouly is attending the summit on behalf of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi. Also participating in the two-day summit are the heads of state and representatives from the AU’s member states, as well as legal advisor to the AU Namira Negm.
In his speech, Madbouly said, “Africa is on the cusp of a historic milestone which started when the AfCFTA was signed in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018. As of today, 54 countries have signed the agreement, 34 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification, with Nigeria depositing their instrument of ratification.”
He continued that 41 countries/customs unions submitted their tariff offers, on Saturday, including the EAC and ECOWAS, who submitted their offers in the last few days. He believes that this represents a good start for the AfCFTA “for a truly commercially meaningful trading in 1 January 2021”.
He added that nothing would have been achieved of all this progress without the leadership and commitment of Mahamadou Issoufou, the Leader of the AfCFTA.
“We aggressively implement the AfCFTA as one of the tools for effecting a fundamental structural transformation of Africa’s economy and placing Africa on a path of long term industrial development,” Madbouly added, “Now is the time to take action to dismantle this colonial economic model by accelerating our industrial development objectives.”
Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, added that a recent study by the World Bank estimates that where implemented effectively, by 2035 the AfCFTA is set to lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty and 70 million from moderate poverty.
The AU President gave the opening speech at the beginning of the summit, followed by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa. Speeches were also given by President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Muhammad, and Mene.
The agenda of the first virtual summit includes a review of the report by AfCFTA leader and advocate Issoufou Mahamadou, who is also President of Niger, in addition to the submission of the instruments for the start of trade to the member states and the Secretary General of the AfCFTA by the Chairperson of the Commission.
The agenda also includes the adoption of the decision on starting trade within the AfCFTA framework, and the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration on the start of trade between the agreement’s member countries.
The agreement establishing AfCFTA was signed in March 2018 in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, and came into force in May 2019.
A total of 33 African countries have ratified the AfCFTA, which aims to create a market of 1.27 billion consumers with a cumulative GDP of approximately $2.3trn-$3.4trn.