AID 2020: AU, UNIDO, others urge African governments to harness AfCFTA’s economic opportunities

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) have urged African leaders to embrace and harness economic opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

They made the call in a joint statement to felicitate with African countries in commemoration of the 2020 African Industrialisation Day (AID).

The statement was issued in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD and the Afrochampions Initiative.

Mr. Jean Bakole, UNIDO Representative and Regional Director, presented the joint goodwill statement during the commemoration of the 2020 AID on Tuesday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the United Nations in 1989, declared Nov. 20 every year as Africa Industrialisation Day.

The theme for this year’s edition is “Inclusive and Sustainable Industrialisation in the AfCFTA and COVID 19 Era”.

It is organised by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investments (FMITI) and the Organised Labour.

According to the multilateral organisations, the AfCFTA opens up opportunities for African countries to diversify away from commodity dependency toward increased intra-Africa trade in manufactured goods.

They said the AfCTTA era had the potential to facilitate quicker recoveries of African economies, most of whom were currently undergoing a recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They therefore urged AU-member countries to consolidate the continent’s vision of building a self-resilient and self-reliant Africa, using the platform of continental economic integration.

“The AUC, AUDA-NEPAD, UNECA, Afrochampions Initiative and UNIDO are, therefore, through the organisation of this Africa Industrialisation Day and Week speaking with one voice.

“We are calling on all stakeholders to upscale support for sustainable and inclusive industrialisation of the continent as we enter the AfCFTA era.

“As the AfCFTA comes into operation, lurking on the horizon is the challenge for African governments and entrepreneurs to create decent jobs for the 170 million African youths.

“The youths are set to enter the job market between 2020 and 2030, industrial skills development becomes critical in this regard.

“Africa has to take a more prominent role in the 4th industrial revolution as digitisation is opening up new business frontiers and e-based approaches of organising and directing industrial production and commercial transactions,” they said.

According to them, the AfCFTA is the greatest prospect for Africa’s accelerated pace to industrialise and rest on the development of regional value chains to inform cross border investment decisions.

They therefore urged African leaders to advance the AfCFTA and Africa-industrialisation side-by-side.

NAN reports that the AfCFTA with its secretariat in Accra, Ghana, is a free trade area created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union (AU) nations.

The free-trade area is reputed to be the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.

The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services with free movement of people and capital and pave the way for creating a Customs Union.

It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent. (NAN)

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