A report issued by Afrobarometer has said that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) may hold the potential to unlock local development opportunities through an inclusive free market.
However, the report said the success of the AfCFTA will depend on the ease of crossborder trade in goods and services, as well as the potential benefits to ordinary Africans.
The report Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye Sanny and Jaynisha Patel, noted that Africans across 18 countries are roughly evenly divided on the question of opening borders to trade vs. closing them to protect local producers.
So negative or uncertain attitudes toward trade may still be a serious impediment to the AfCFTA, especially in those countries (such as Tunisia, Lesotho, and Botswana) where protectionist sentiments are strongest.
But the concrete realities of moving goods and people across borders will also be critical, and there is much work to be done here. Currently, two-thirds of Africans across 18 countries face difficulties moving around their region, including for work, and the situation has gotten substantially worse in the past few years, it said.
“This is despite the fact that more than half (55%) of Africans support the free movement of people and goods across borders. Policies aimed at easing regulations and reforming border control, with specific attention to promoting agency for Africans living on the fringes of economic inclusion, will be vital to the success of a free trade area.
“Perceptions of fostering interconnectedness vary greatly between countries, highlighting local dynamics that underpin the facilitation of the AfCFTA. Perhaps one way to address this is the establishment of regional autonomous oversight bodies that assess domestic challenges and put forward recommendations that help overcome local and regional barriers to the success of the AfCFTA.
“Deepening interconnectedness as a means of entrenching peace and building self-reliant nations requires broad access to the free trade area for regular Africans. Otherwise, the AfCFTA will fail to take advantage of the labour, skills, and knowledge of the very populations that will determine its success.”
By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana