President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, is projecting the removal of all continental barriers to allow for free trade in Africa within the next 5 to 10 years.
According to the Rwandan President, the various regional blocs in Africa have done a lot – putting in place the right measures to allow for unification in the area of continental free trade.
Speaking at the 2017 Global Business Forum, Africa, in Dubai, Paul Kagame said: “I think within 5-10 years we will see more progress adding to what we have already realised. If you look at different regions, like the ECOWAS, they have made progress especially in the area of free movement of the people. Very significantly, if you also look at the east African region even more progress has been made in the area of Customs union and integration in the area of infrastructure.
“These include no tariffs in the areas of power and telecommunications, including railway networks. So, you can see everything coming together with more trade, investments across countries of different regions. In fact, the southern African block is even more ahead with intra-regional trade – which means that we are coming together, no matter the bloc that you are referring to on the continent,” he told the audience.
Mr. Kagame further stated: “We can get to non-tariff trade across the borders of the continent, because if we are seeing it work in the east African region and other things are working in other regions, then it’s possible because it’s already a big step for us as a union”.
Going beyond the current level of intra-Africa trade estimated at around 15 percent, Mr. Kagame said, is dependent on building knowledge and information to tackle existing bottlenecks, which he believes is being worked on by member-nations already.
Heads of State in Africa have signed an agreement to implement the Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) which is to foster free-trade.
The CFTA, when implemented, will also reduce the continent’s vulnerability to external shocks and is expected to enhance the participation of Africa in global trade as a respectable partner, thereby reducing the continent’s dependence on foreign aid and external borrowing.
In 2000 intra-continental trade accounted for 10% of Africa’s total trade, and increased marginally to 11% in 2015.
Trading among members of the European Union, for example, amounted to 70% in 2015. Intra-African trade is still estimated at less than two percent (2%) of global trade.