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Big ambitions for African Continental Free Trade Agreement Business Forum

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AfCTFA will pave the way for a cross-continental collaborative approach to doing business, writes Dr Iqbal Survé, non-executive chairman of Independent Media.

By Dr Iqbal Survé,

The three-day 2024 African Continental Free Trade Agreement Business Forum (AfCTFA), which got under way at the Cape Town International Conference Centre yesterday, is the first in-person forum of its kind since AfCTFA was established in July 2019, and is aimed at implementing an actionable plan arising out of their first report “AfCTFA: A new Era for global business and investment in Africa.”

This report was released at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos this year, which detailed an enthusiasm for investment in Africa and all its attendant opportunities.

As a WEF veteran, media owner, businessman and someone who has a deep commitment to fostering Africa’s economic growth and prosperity, it is therefore a pleasure to welcome so many delegates, VIPs, former Heads of State, Ministers, members of the African Development Bank, the African Union Commission, and of course, the General Secretary of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Mr Wamkele Mene, to Cape Town.

AfCTFA will pave the way for a cross-continental collaborative approach to doing business, essential if we are to reduce the difficulties of doing business between countries, in terms of providing goods and services, and supporting the value chain development of automotive, garments, pharmaceutical, agribusiness and technology sectors.

This is timely, since Africa’s star is in the ascendancy and has the largest youth population in the world, who will need employment and income opportunities for the future.

Much of this growth will come from us, the Africans who live and work on this continent. It is our time to shine, and it must be we, who create the skills and opportunities for our compatriots to prosper by and through whom forward-thinking investors can reap benefits to re-invest.

Africa has a population of more than one billion people and is expected to reach a united GDP of between 3 to 6 trillion US dollars by 2030. With the requisite intra-trade and inter-trade agreements in place, this could be higher still, and some would even argue that it needs to, given the growth of the population.

I congratulate the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Mr Wamkele Mene, and the Champions, including the former President of Niger, for having championed the AfCTFA, the African Union, and of course finance institutions of the African Continent such as Mr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank in making this a reality.

I should also mention the role the World Economic Forum has played.

My participation in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement has resulted from various meetings in the World Economic Forum’s Annual meeting in Davos, where the idea of these sessions on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement were discussed and various proposals, as well as the Paper which the World Economic Forum, were published.

This is a truly great moment for Africa, and as an African I am proud, firstly because we are getting our act together; secondly, we are going to, through this, encourage Trade and Investment; thirdly, we are going to encourage investment, which will lead to jobs being created and lastly, as a Capetonian, I am delighted that this meeting is being hosted in Cape Town, for all to see the beauty of our Mother City.

The three-day conference ends on 18 April.

Dr Iqbal Survé, non-executive chairman of Independent Media.