African states have been urged to be open to foreign direct investment from African countries as well as adopt regional concepts of local content to boost intra African trade in readiness for theroll out of the African continental free trade agreement in three months.
According to Cabinet Secretary Trade and Industrialization Betty Maina, Kenya needs to invest heavily on agro processing, value add on textile and apparel as well as leather to leverage on opportunities provided under the agreement and expand its export portfolio.
The elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers required by the Agreement will boost intra-African trade and improve developmental prospects for East Africa, allowing regional firms to tap into the rapidly growing markets both within the region and throughout Africa.
However East African governments will lose a minor amount of autonomy in their economic affairs albeit a worthy investment.
AcFTA operationalization is expected to create a 1.3 billion market worth 2.5 trillion dollars by 2021 by leveraging on among others digital commerce, value addition along the manufacturing value chain.
Textile and apparels, agro processing, leather and light manufacturing are some of the key sectors expected to benefit as regional firms increase their capacity to satisfy the larger market under the continental agreement.
Cabinet Secretary Trade and Industrialization Betty Maina , urged member states to increase investments in value addition as a means to increase intra regional trade that is still below per.
Data from Trade Mark East Africa indicates that Africa accounts only for 19% of export goods.
Lack of infrastructure to ensure efficient movement of goods via road, air and services both hard and soft including trade processes as well as lack of harmonization of trade policies coupled to non-conducive business environment are among hurdles curtailing regional integration.
The operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement is deemed a game changer for how Africa trades within itself for prosperity.