Heads of National Shippers Councils are in Democratic Republic Congo’s capital Kinshasa, to roll out strategies and cooperation mechanism with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat for a successful implementation.
This conference is a follow up on an initiative that was signed by 44 African countries in 2018 known as the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The Democratic Republic of Congo President, Felix Tshisekedi believes the initiative will lift millions of Africans out of poverty.
“The start of trading under this initiative has shown that we will become economically independent in Africa. I want to declare that my desire is to see this collective effort transform our economies,” he said.
Africa is endowed with a lot of natural resources but most of its exports are unprocessed.
The leaders gathered in Congo hope to change the narrative.
“When we join our efforts as a bloc, we become stronger but if we are go individually we will not be strong enough and the sense of the African Continental Free Trade Area is that. We need to be a strong bloc of Africans,” Sayiba Tambwe, CEO DRC Multimodal Freight Management Office.
The quest to integrate African economies has been expressed by many African leaders for decade, but political differences and poor infrastructure has blighted that goal.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is a member of the Southern African Development Community – a sub-Regional Economic Community that is set to benefit from the removal of trade barriers in Africa.
“I think that this agreement presents opportunities on both sides for DRC as well as for South Africa. For export of trade in goods…export of trade in services, for the establishment of linkages in regional value chains to make sure that we accelerate industrial development on both sides,” Mr Wamkele Mene, first Secretary General of the AfCFTA, said.
Many African economies have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, and that has made this push for economic integration a priority.
The officials at the meeting plan to come up with a declaration which will outline the path to achieving the expected goals of facilitated trade and transport across.