Egyptian President and African Union (AU) Chairperson, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, said on Monday, during the coordination summit of the AU in Niamey, Niger, that Africa has many undergoing economic and logistic projects, as well as mutual interests between the continent’s states.
The president stressed the importance of the role of the eight African economic blocks for linking the continent countries.
“We have a strategic political vision. We are undertaking many initiatives for the success of many projects among African countries, and to create job opportunities for the youth of the continent,” Al-Sisi added.
On Sunday night, Al-Sisi presided over the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union in Niamey, Niger. The summit was dedicated to launch the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) after completing a number of required endorsements.
During his speech, Al-Sisi stressed that achieving productive and industrial integration among African countries requires more effort and perseverance to free trade in goods and services, as well as providing the necessary trade guarantees and creating an enabling investment environment.
In his view, this would lead to achieving the AfCFTA’s ambitious objectives and meet the legitimate aspirations of African peoples in development and progress.
Al-Sisi also stressed the importance of upgrading the African infrastructure network for the success of the agreement as imperative for any successful regional integration experience.
According to the president, upgrading the African infrastructure network will facilitate the flow of goods, services, communications, data, and individuals, thereby reducing the cost of trade and investment, stimulating further growth, and enhancing the livelihood of African people.
The AfCFTA agreement would result in the largest free-trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), as it would unite the 55-member countries of the AU in tariff-free trade.
The prospective agreement’s countries have a cumulative GDP of $2.5tn and a market of 1.2 billion people. The free-trade area, which will include an easing of travel across the continent, is hoped to encourage Africa’s trade to diversify away from its traditional commodity exports outside of the continent, the volatile prices of which have hurt the economies of many countries.
The AfCFTA’s agreement was first introduced in January 2012 during the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The member states adopted the decision to establish the Continental Free Trade Area by 2017.