The 2021 East Africa Trade and Industrialization Week, which opened on August 31st in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, centered the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as an impetus to the region’s integration process.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area is a crucial stage in achieving regional integration, which has remained a key objective of the East African Community as a means to sustainably develop economies,” Secretary-General of the East Africa Community, Hon. Dr. Peter Mathuki said at the opening of the East Africa Trade and Industrialization Week (EATIW).
Dr. Mathuki, who gave credit to EAC’s leadership in integration on the continent, added that strengthening the role and mandate of the private sector in driving the regional integration agenda is of paramount importance.
The Secretary-General said it was an opportune time for the bloc to develop the region’s own capacity in energy, roads, as well as smart infrastructure which, he said, were critical for the region to reap the benefits of AfCFTA.
Held under the theme “Promoting Eastern African Region as a Preferred Gateway for Trade, Investment and Industrialization”, the five-day gathering brought together over 200 participants including business operators, policy makers, civil society leaders, international and UN organization leaders, academia from all avenues who will deliberate on how EAC member states will integrate the AfCFTA agenda, through network of Chambers, and business associations, and advance the EAC development agenda.
On his part, Hon. Prof Kitila Mkumbo, Minister for Industry and Trade of the United Republic of Tanzania stated that the theme resonated well with the East African Community’s vision and mission as it is consolidating its external trade policy by undertaking trade negotiations as a bloc with partners, a key feature of the implementation of AfCFTA. Therefore, he challenged the private sector to get involved in the integration process.
Kenya’s Chief Administrative Secretary for the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Hon. David Osiany emphasized the need for the AfCFTA to be accompanied by a massive scaling up of private and public cooperation to boost cross-border infrastructure on the continent.
“As the negotiations of the AfCFTA move forward”, Hon. Osiany stressed, “integrity and trust should be the main currencies that will drive trade and investment in the region.”
Also delivering opening remarks, Mr. Paul Faraj Koyi, the President of the Tanzanian Chamber of Commerce, Industry&Agriculture (TCCIA), while expressing his gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Tanzania, ¹urged all key stakeholders in the region to work towards the dream of an integrated region, under the auspices of AfCFTA.
Mr. Richard Ngatia, President of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) underlined that “the AfCFTA is a gift from Africa to Africa for Africa”.
Mr. Ngatia stressed that delegates should discuss and agree on their roles while deliberating on the main theme of the event.
This year’s East Africa Trade and Industrialization Week, organized by the European Union (EU), the East African Chamber of Commerce, Industry&Agriculture (EACCIA), the East African Business Council and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), features different sessions within the overall theme of regional trade to promote economic growth in the sub-region and the continent, at large. The five-day gathering also featured a Business Exhibition, which will further allow for EAC, African regional business and economic networks, to become increasingly active in trade and development affairs and work together to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
This event is part of a more extensive project aimed at deepening Africa’s trade integration through the effective implementation of the AfCFTA. Financially supported by the European Union, ECA has been working with its partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), the International Trade Centre (ITC), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and a selection of independent trade experts to ensure effective AfCFTA implementation strategies.
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