Ten African heads of state and government, as well as the president of the African Development Bank, were handed awards for their instrumental role in the realization of the African continental free trade area.
“As Africans, we are proud of the extraordinary effort made by our leaders towards the success of the AfCFTA.” Hailemariam Boshe, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Ae Group Patron
A consortium of African stakeholders banded together to show acknowledgment for the efforts undertakes towards realizing Africa’s dream. The stakeholders included AeTrade Group in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Business Council, the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture.
The heads of state that received recognition included:
- Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Egyptian President Ahmed Fattah Al-Sisi;
- His Majesty King Mswati III, Ngwenyama of Eswatini;
- Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia;
- Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana;
- Alpha Conde, President of Guinea;
- Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger;
- Muhamadu Buhari, President of Nigeria;
- Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and
- Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, Chairperson of the African Union.
The awards come at a time when the African continental free trade agreement has become a reality, after years of laying the foundations. The agreement also experienced disruptions caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.
Companies can now take advantage of trade opportunities that have been opened up through AfCTA. While the trade agreement is still in its infancy, its successful implementation heralds a new era of open doors in trade.
With a combined market of over 1.2 billion people and a GDP that sums up to over $3 trillion, the continental free trade area is expected to increase intra African trade by over 50%.
Thus it will open up the market for made in Africa products, increasing manufacturing capacity, employment creation, technology advancement, and overall economic growth.
The free trade area will therefore be a crucial stepping stone towards the Africa we want as espoused by the African Union – the global powerhouse of the future.
It is only fitting given the immense benefits that AfCTA is set to bring to honor those who actively took a leading role culminating in the launch of AfCTA.
The African Union ceremony also gave credence to two former heads of state, namely: Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria.
“We are proud to acknowledge our champions, who have been at the forefront of this process.” Ambassador Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry.
Private sector involvement
A pertinent theme recognized at the awards ceremony is the crucial need for private sector involvement for the success of AfCTA. The banding together of private sector institutions along with the African Union symbolizes the strength that the free trade area will have if both government and private sector institutions jointly focus on driving continental free trade.
The African continental free trade area is a beacon of hope that steers the continent towards Agenda 2063 and beyond. Through the unity of purpose, the vision of self determination and sustainable development is achievable.
“The Africa that we want can only be achieved through working together; We are confident that there is no need for Africa to depend on aid. We can spur domestic mobilization of resources and synergies.” Chairman of the AeTrade Group, Mulualem Syoum