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Kenya sure to host free trade secretariat

Kenya has expressed optimism that it will host the secretariat of Africa’s free trade zone to be created in July.

The country is eyeing the economic benefits that come with hosting international organisations.

The other countries jostling to host the secretariat are Ghana, Senegal and Egypt.

Senior government officials met with a team of evaluators from the African Union (AU) to market the country’s ability to host the permanent office of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

The AU officials are in the country to assess Kenya’s facilities, safety and other criteria before making recommendations to the Council of Ministers at the African Union.

“Having the Secretariat come to Kenya would not only cement Kenya’s role as a lead country in trade and multilateralism but it would also avail Africa the best venue and the best opportunity to grow free trade to its full potential, for the benefit of all Africans,” Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau said.

Kenya has been on the forefront in pushing for the implementation of the Continental Free Trade agreement and was among the first countries out of 52 nations to sign the treaty.

The country is also targeting to tap into growing intra-Africa travel to expand its tourism sector as African countries move to create a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

The African Heads of States and Governments pose during African Union (AU) Summit for the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018.

Signed by 52 of the 55 African countries, the treaty often known as AfCTA, hopes to create $3 trillion (Sh300 trillion) continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people for movement of goods, traders and workers with little restrictions.

Kenya will not have it easy though and will battle with Ghana, Senegal and Egypt; all who signed on the AfCTA when it was launched in Kigali in March last year, to host the secretariat.

The bidding document has not been made public, but officials said Kenya’s experience with hosting 24 UN agencies, several African Union offices and diplomatic missions adds to its ability to host the secretariat.


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