Kenya is at an advanced stage in ratifying Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which makes Africa the biggest economic block in the World, the Principal Secretary for International Trade Dr. Chris Kiptoo said on Saturday night.
Dr. Kiptoo was presiding over official closing of a four day African Round of the European Law Students Association (ELSA) Moot Court Competition on World Trade Organization (WTO) Law in Nairobi.
He said that cabinet approval of the convention had given Kenyan goods and services free access to 53 African Countries with a total population of 1.2 billion people.
“We shall soon be depositing legal instruments with the African Union, making Kenya the third country in Africa to ratify the convention after Rwanda and Ghana”, said Dr. Kiptoo.
The PS called upon member States in Africa to invest in knowledge about Multilateral Trading System in order to fully appreciate and leverage the vast market opportunities created by the AfCFTA.
He expressed concerns that whereas over 80% of African Countries were Members of the WTO, Africa’s participation in the dispute settlement process at the WTO remained extremely low despite the fact that they also experienced trade disputes worth taking to the WTO.
“Kenya for instance has only participated in 3 disputes as a third party since 2005” said DrKiptoo.
He explained that lack of adequate human resource capacity to empower lawyers from both private practice and public service in the continent on WTO matters had disadvantaged Africa in World trade disputes.
“On the contrary, in other countries, there are numerous specialized lawyers who do nothing but practice WTO law all their lives,” emphasized the PS.
“I therefore look at this Moot Court competition as an early opportunity to introduce law students to the practical intricacies of this highly specialized field of law and to ameliorate their understanding of WTO law, as Scholars, Coaches and Panelists” said he.
ELSA moot court is one of the biggest international moot court competitions whose goal is to equip the next generation of trade lawyers with the required skills and expertise in WTO dispute settlement.
It brings together students from all corners of the World to compete on a case based on WTO Law. Participants are presented with a fictitious case on matters in WTO law and are expected to present their arguments to a panel comprised of lawyers, scholars, practitioners and experts in trade law.
The competition held at Strathmore University brought together law students from Twenty Universities in Kenya, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Strathmore University emerged the overall winners.