The 1st of January 2021 kicked off the Start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. This day also marked the first shipment of goods, under the African trade rules, flagged off from Ghana to a South African. H.E Cyril Ramaphosa President of South Africa and Chairperson of the Union, H.E Nana Akufo Addo, President of Ghana, H.E Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger and Champion of the AfCFTA, H.E Moussa Faki, Chairperson of the A.U. Commission all witnessed the Launch, led by H.E Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat.
The AfCFTA Secretary-General visited The Arab Republic of Egypt, his first official state visit since the start of trading. The visit's objective was to witness the state of preparedness of the Egyptian economy and discuss how the Secretariat can contribute at a national level to create synergies and access to new opportunities under the AfCFTA.
H.E Wamkele starts his state tour by meeting with H.E Abdul Fatah Al Sisi. During their deliberations, the President reiterated his commitment to implementing the AfCFTA and further pledged his country support to the Secretariat to ensure it achieves its mandate.
The AfCFTA Secretary-General also had the honour of meeting with the President of the Egyptian Parliament. They exchange views with the African Committee of the Parliament and met with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Nevin Gamea, who explained how Egypt supports the SME's, primarily through the Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise Development Agency of Egypt. He also met with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E. Amb Soha Elgendy, and H.E. Sameh Shoukry.
This visit also allowed the Secretary-General to discover the significant economic projects underway in Egypt, demonstrating the countries preparedness to support intra- African Economic integration. He toured the Sokhna Port and the Suez Canal Economic Zone, Africa's door to the global market as well as the Smart Village of Cairo a high-technology business district built to digitalize trade in the continent.
The tour concluded with a round table discussion with the Egyptian private sector discussion on how the Secretariat will partner with the private sector on the continent to ensure a successful implementation of the Agreement. After which the Heads of the Federation of Egyptian Industries and the Egyptian Business Association, the African Business Council, an initiative instituted by the African Heads of State in 2013, organized a torch lighting to mark the historical Start of trading under the AfCFTA.
Note to editors
The Agreement establishing the AfCFTA was signed in March 2018, in Kigali Rwanda, following conclusion of the main legal texts. 54 Member States of the African Union have signed, and 30 countries have deposited their instruments of ratification with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission. The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single market for goods and services, facilitate the movement of persons, promote industrial development and sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth, and resolve the issue of multiple membership, in accordance with agenda 2063. It lays a foundation for the establishment, in future, of a Continental Common Market.