AfCFTA refocuses global investment attention on Africa – Wamkele Mene

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Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA

…urges diasporans to take advantage of opportunities

Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, has said commencement of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has spurred global investment attention on the continent, and has called on Africans in the diaspora to position themselves to benefit from the opportunity as well as aid economic growth.

According to him, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a global crisis – but also an opportunity to reframe diaspora engagement with African nations. He believes with the launch and operationalisation of the AfCFTA, the discourse about Africa is shifting from one of the challenges and gaps to one about opportunities and prospects.

Speaking on the second day of the Ghana Diaspora Investment Summit organised by the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Mr. Mene said: “Africa is now receiving a high level of interest as an investment destination from investors from across the globe. Indeed, the AfCFTA is creating a new narrative that should inspire the African diaspora to explore opportunities on the continent and invest in the various sectors”.

He added that as the pandemic begins to ease and economic recovery of the African economies get underway, diasporans all over the world are welcome to join and contribute to this historical endeavour of fostering a strong and sustainable African integration.

“Today, the case for investing in Africa is stronger than ever. Africa will remain a competitive investment destination for decades to come because of its improving relative risk profiles, demography and continental integration.  I encourage African diasporans to invest in the Africa market. The time is now to invest in Africa,” he said.

He noted that regarding the trade access and facilitation dimension, the diaspora could serve as market-entry facilitators, importers, distributors and co-investors for African export initiatives targetting global markets.

He said, for diasporans, the continent is enticing as an investment destination on many fronts; it remains the continent with the fastest-growing economies as well as being the youngest globally.

Additionally, Africa’s youth dividend will also make the continent attractive as a potential global manufacturing base; and the mobile telephone revolution will facilitate not just intra-Africa trade but also enable real-time communication with diasporans.

“The next wave of investment into African markets should be forward-looking, focusing on sectors that will define the continent’s growth in the coming years. The past decade saw FDI flow into areas such as telecommunications, consumer products and industrials, but mobile penetration, COVID-19 dynamics, and growing energy demand are creating opportunities in new sectors including the following: infrastructure, agro-processing, financial technology (FINTEC), energy and healthcare,” he said.

The AfCFTA agreement, with implementation commencing on January 1, 2021, provides a platform whereon the African diaspora can play an important role in the economic development of their countries of origin and the continent. There is now increased and diversified opportunities to promote trade and foreign direct investment, create businesses and spur entrepreneurship, transferring new knowledge and skills within the AfCFTA market.

Currently, almost 69 percent of countries that have signed the agreement have deposited their instruments of ratification, which means they have legally accepted the obligation to open their markets, reduce their barriers to trade, reduce barriers to investment and adhere to this single set of rules for trade and investment on the African continent. This is an unprecedented achievement for Africa.

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