For so long Africa has had to deal with misconceptions of it being savannahs, deserts and wild animals. For too many the idea of an African experience was limited to game drives and our natural wonders.
Only a few have known about the developments and industrialization within the continent and the vast business opportunities that this presents, but even that is overshadowed by a cloud of inefficient bureaucracy and poor infrastructure.
The 21st of March was a significant event for Africa as a continent when 44 of the African Union’s 55-member states signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in Kigali, Rwanda.
The President of the Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Kigali Declaration on the establishment of the AfCFTA at the 10th Extraordinary Summit of the Assembly.
Welcoming the adoption by the AU of the trade agreement, he stated “a new beginning for the continent that will catapult African countries and companies to much higher levels of growth”. The Presidency followed this with a tweet: “This is an opportunity that is going to yield great benefits for all countries on the continent as well as big business, small companies and micro-traders”.
The creation of a pan-African market has the potential to increase intra-African trade. Expanding the domestic markets of all countries in the AfCFTA could lead to overall economic growth and job creation.
As the Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Ramaphosa said the summit was a “forward step in the arduous journey to translate the African Continental Free Trade Area legal instrument into an effective conduit for increased trade and investment across the African continent”.
With African countries having a historic aversion to trade agreements with the EU in the past, the continentalism of the AfCFTA plays in favour of developing countries joining forces.
As much as there are mixed emotions from varying parties regarding the AfCTA there is no denying the numerous benefits to Africa as a potential new market. With the expectation that the AfCFTA will offer growth and the creation of opportunities for high-skilled employment in Africa, Africa is on the road to becoming a destination of choice for the African diaspora that have needed to leave the continent in order to gain international experience.
It creates a market within the continent for goods and services and allows for freedom of movement for candidates as well as investors.
Being one of the more developed countries, South Africa and its respective industries stand to gain a lot in it’s attractiveness to investors and the relationship it can build within the continent.
Candidates who have had to go abroad to gain exposure and experience in the greater global community now stand to benefit from the opportunities to use their global experiences within their own home countries.
Africa is being put on the map in a positive light, not only with it’s vast mineral riches but with more continental partnerships being fostered when hurdles for trade are being removed.
Increasing the levels of export and intercontinental trading amongst fellow African nations raises the continents GDP. The most positive outcome of this is an increase in jobs available for Africa’s growing population.
The historic need to seek experience within the EU and abroad can now be minimized by local branches of international companies having posts that only locals can and should fill. An intimate knowledge of local culture and business dealings within each country’s political and infrastructural sphere will be of great benefit to all parties concerned.
Africans now stand to benefit from experience gained within their home countries and exposure to the greater business world in future.
So, the job creation that is a direct result of the AfCFTA leads to experience and home grown quality candidates.
Africa needs to lead the charge in strengthening continental relationships that are of benefit to fellow Africans. This agreement is a great starting point to building a solid foundation on which to produce the type of business leadership within Africa that makes it a solid competitor globally.
Everyone stands to benefit from the growth of businesses, the ease of trade and quality candidates with intercontinental and global experience.
Africa is on track to no longer depend on its global image. It is now recognizing its own greatness and celebrating it through an increase in continentalism. And with all the promise it’s showing, it is definitely the place to be…
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