23 March 2018, Sweetcrude, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – The African Development Bank celebrates with Africa and pledges its full support to achieve the success of the recently launched Continental Free Trade Area, as part of its strategy to help Integrate Africa.
To accelerate trade facilitation, the Bank has invested more than $20 million over the past five years in trade agreement support, and cross-border transport and energy soft infrastructure and is committing to support the building of the institutional and human capacities of the Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat.
“The Continental Free Trade area will stimulate intra-African trade by up to $35 billion per year, creating a 52% increase in trade by 2022; and a vital $10 billion decrease in imports from outside Africa,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.
Adesina was represented at the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018, by Gabriel Negatu, the Bank’s Director General, East Africa Regional Development and Business Delivery Office. In a statement delivered by Negatu on the occasion, Adesina described the establishment of the initiative as “a major milestone.”
“Free trade will bring collective benefits and shared wealth for all African nations, especially the landlocked countries. So, we must accelerate investments in regional and national infrastructure, especially, to boost connectivity, reduce costs and raise competitiveness,” Adesina said.
He applauded the African Union Commission, the Economic Commission for Africa, the negotiators, and the CFTA Champion, Mahamadou Issoufou, the President of the Republic of Niger, for doing an excellent job in making the initiative a reality for Africa, noting that regional integration and trade based upon the free movement of persons, goods, services, and capital is at the core of the business of the African Development Bank.
The Bank is accelerating the full implementation of the High 5s – its five development priorities, in particular ‘Integrate Africa’.
“This is Africa’s time and Africa can no longer be ignored. Africa’s food and agriculture market will hit $1 trillion by 2030. Household consumption will hit $2.5 trillion, with business-to-business expenditure at $3.5 trillion by 2025. There’s no doubt, Africa is where to invest,” President Adesina stressed.
According to Adesina, that is why infrastructure features prominently in the Bank’s High 5 priorities to ensure that no country is left behind in its efforts connect Africa’s 54 countries into a mutually profitable free trade area.
In the last five years, the Bank’s commitments to infrastructure have totaled more than $12 billion, mostly in cross-border transport, energy, finance and ICT connectivity and the Bank has worked closely with its partners to identify and undertake regional infrastructure projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) with a $10 million grant.
“The African Development Bank will be with you all on this exciting free trade journey. We will continue to invest in our High 5s to Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Integrate Africa; Industrialize Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa,” President Adesina said.
“Africa is open for business. The days of aid are over. We are now on a highway to boosting Africa’s prosperity, through greater trade and investments ‘without borders’ among our nations.”
Through the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), many African countries are committing to removing barriers to trade, like tariffs and import quotas, allowing the free flow of goods and services between its members.