Ruto champions tech integration for AfCFTA’s trade evolution


By Kizito CUDJOE

Kenya’s President Dr. William Samoei Ruto is championing the integration of technology into the trade strategy of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in order to enhance intra-continental trade.

Mr. Ruto, speaking during a high-profile visit to the AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra, urged stakeholders to harness the power of innovation to expedite the movement of goods and services across the continent.

“We are great believers that technology democratises opportunities; it improves efficiency and accountability; therefore, technology is going to dictate the pace we move our goods and services,” he said.

He encouraged AfCFTA to work closely with the other agencies of the African Union (AU) to fast-track cross-border trade using technology.

President Ruto’s call for technological integration comes as momentum continues to build toward the full operationalisation of AfCFTA.

Highlighting the transformative potential of technology, President Ruto emphasised its ability to streamline trade processes, improve transparency and enhance efficiency. These elements are crucial for the success of AfCFTA’s ambitious agenda to create a single market.

He described the continent wide free trade agreement, signed in March of 2018, as a milestone in pursuing more integrated and inclusive economic growth, anchored on development of skills, market integration, market diversification, and underpinned by technology transfer within African economies and outside.

“We are very proud of what the Government of Ghana has done in making sure that the secretariat is appropriately facilitated to take up its central role in the integration of the African market.

“I am pleased with a progress that has been made in laying the foundation and operationalising AfCFTA Secretariat under very difficult circumstances,” he added.

He also noted that AfCFTA represents a promise to Africans to significantly contribute to the attainment of Agenda 2063 and to ensure that no one is left behind.

“The AfCFTA agreement is expected to foster industrialisation and regional competitiveness through the creation of regional value chains and improved agro-processing and expanded markets for meaningful intra-Africa trade and jobs for young people”.

The President of Kenya, who was visiting the secretariat after his visit to the President of Ghana, Nana Akuffo-Addo, commended the Secretary-General of AfCFTA for the progress made so far.

He particularly commended him for successfully steering the conclusion of phase 1 and phase 2 negotiations in trading goods and services. He urged him to stay the course, conclude the remaining negotiations, and ensure effective implementation.

“To ensure effective implementation, Kenya strongly supports the establishment of regional offices and its scheme to host the East African Regional Office in Nairobi.

“Kenya looks forward to integrating Africa’s financial sector in ways that promote intra-African trade as well as speedy operationalisation of the policy and research development initiatives that you and me discussed when you came to Kenya; we were both at one of our universities trying to consolidate this position,” President Ruto stated.

In his welcoming remarks, the Secretary-General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, recognised the Republic of Kenya’s long-standing commitment to the founding objectives of the AU, which led to the establishment of AfCFTA.

Similarly, he mentioned the role played by the Republic of Ghana in the establishment and operations of AfCFTA, since 2020.

He said: “Thanks to the support we received from Ghana, we have been able to demonstrate that when Africans commit and act, we can achieve the results that we all aspire to see”.

Similarly, the Secretary-General commended President Ruto for his leadership roles both in Kenya and across the continent, as assigned to him by the AU.

While commending Kenya for the development of a National AfCFTA implementation strategy for the period 2022 to 2027, he added that it marks a significant milestone on the journey to achieve the objectives of the programme. “This strategy provides a comprehensive framework for harnessing trade and investment opportunities for Kenya across Africa, which remains a very important export and import destination.”

AfCFTA, he said, is taking concrete steps to make sure that the protocols on digital trade and  on women and youth in trade are fully implemented.

He also announced some major developments at AfCFTA, including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) worth US$6billion with Equity Bank and another US$7billion agreement with the United Bank of Africa. These funds are earmarked for disbursing to small and medium enterprises, especially those led by young people.

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