The Principal Communications Advisor to the AfCFTA Secretariat, GRACE KHOZA, shares with us news snippets from the SG’s diary.
Speaking at the Inaugural South Africa Automotive Week, H.E. Wamkele Mene highlighted the importance of the Automotive industry in the industrialisation of the African Continent, stating emphatically that Africa will only achieve $7 trillion GDP by 2023 without the support of the Automotive Industry.
The event was hosted at the Kyalami International Conference Centre in the Gauteng Province under the theme “Reimagining the Future, Together. The Rise of the African Auto Industry, investing in new energy vehicles, infrastructure and people”.
This was a congregation of the automotive industry giants and thought leadership and a call to manufacturers and suppliers present at the event to make sure that local content was not only used in products made for the African market, but also that it is applied to products for export as well.
Through this event Naamsa, the industry body that represents the collective interests of South Africa’s car, van and truck manufacturers, parts suppliers, import and export traders, assemblers and other businesses involved in the supply chain of the automotive industry will ensure that it utilises the platform to promote its agenda for increased local content and greater opportunities for indigenous companies.
H.E. Wamkele Mene stated that “Rules of trade, and free trade overall, allow for more innovation and investment, which will enable Africa to move beyond production of less than one-million vehicles a year, and become competitive with the likes of India and China”.
H.E. Wamkele Mene address delegates at the Ghana-Rwanda Business Forum
H.E. Wamkele Mene spoke to delegates at the inaugural Ghana-Rwanda Business Forum, emphasising that strategic relationships of trade and investment that are bilateral, are for the benefit of the entire continent.
He urged the delegates to take advantage of the AfCFTA and expand to other regional markets. Addressing some of the challenges they may face such as lack of access to finance and cost of currency conversion, he outlined what the Secretariat is doing to help them. He highlighted the Secretariat’s close work with AfDB and AFREXIMBANK to increase access to trade capital and the PAPSS that facilitates seamless transactions in local African currencies.
He also spoke about the Protocol on Women & Youth in Trade. “It offers us an opportunity to move beyond expressing aspirations for inclusivity and actually creates legally binding obligations that will ensure that women and youth are at the centre of benefits in the AfCFTA.”
“We shouldn’t look at the AfCFTA as purely a trade agreement. It is truly Africa’s last opportunity. If we miss it now, I’m afraid we will forever remain on the periphery of the global economy. That’s why it’s important that we look at it beyond a trade agreement and see it as a blueprint for Africa’s development.”
The Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers Responsible for Trade
The Extraordinary Meeting of the Council of Ministers kicked off in Libreville, Gabon from the 27th to the 28th of October. The agenda for the meeting is the consideration of outstanding issues from the 10th Meeting of the Council of Ministers which includes the Draft Schedules of Specific Commitments on Trade in Services, the Draft Protocol on Competition Policy, the Draft Protocol on Investment as well as Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). The Consideration of the Draft Agenda for the Extraordinary Session of Heads of State and Government on AfCFTA and the consideration of the Concept Note on the AU Theme of the Year 2023 – “Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation” was also a main objective of the meeting.
In his address at the Opening Ceremony, H.E. Wamkele Mene stated that the consideration of the various protocols presented a unique opportunity to establish a legal foundation and a basis for establishing a common market which would enable Africa to respond to the shifting geopolitical landscape across the world and most importantly, ensure that 1.3 billion Africans see the benefit of the AfCFTA. He brought attention to the over-reliance on imports of grains from Russia and Ukraine which is causing a food insecurity crisis across the continent which needed to be urgently addressed.
A press briefing will be held on Friday, the 28th of October to share the outcomes of the meeting.
Grace Khoza – Principal Communications Advisor