The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has called for increase in the role of private sector for better outcomes in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Mrs Ngone Diop, Director, UNECA Sub-Regional Office, West Africa said this at a virtual regional forum on Wednesday.
The two-day forum is a West Africa Regional Forum of Intergovernmental and private sector organisations on the Implementation of the AfCFTA.
Diop said increasing the role of the private sector would impact on the initiatives of the AfCFTA.
The director noted that the sector’s role would harness demographic dividend, grow the middle class and increase the use of technology.
She further said it would promote rapid urbanisation and increase opportunities for regional and global value chains for African businesses as strategic drivers of economic growth in Africa.
She recalled that the ECA Economic Report on Africa noted the private sector as a “powerful force for economic growth” with the potential to transit economies from low-income to middle-income status.
“The 2020 ECA Economic Report on Africa highlights that a successful AfCFTA will create a single African market of over 1.2 billion consumers with a total GDP of over 2.5 trillion dollars, generating combined consumer spending and 6,700 trillion dollars companies by 2030.
“The successful implementation of the agreement is expected to increase African trade by 15 per cent to 25 per cent by 2040.
“It is expected to unlock production potential and facilitate industrialisation, create jobs and sustainable growth.”
Diop added that the AfCFTA also offered the opportunity to transition to service-based economies.
In his remarks, Mr Tei Konzi, ECOWAS Commissioner, Trade, Customs and Free Movement said the role of the private sector was of paramount importance to trade.
Konzi noted that the active involvement of the small and medium enterprises would create sub-regional value chains and create possibilities to promote raw materials.
He also stressed the importance of the determining role of youths, women and businesspeople in the sub-region in the AfCFTA.
Also, Mr Osei Amoako, 1st Vice President, Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), said the private sector had an important role to play.
Amoako said the sector would do this by investing its resource mobilisation, productive capacity, research and development and investment in infrastructure.
“We believe that we should come together with other private sector organisations to speak with one voice with reference to authorities’ decisions.
“We need to unite with our shared wealth of knowledge and resources to ensure that we play a key role in deepening the regional integration process in the implementation of AfCFTA.”
He added that the federation reaffirmed its willingness to partner and collaborate with all regional and continental organisations.
He said this would be through programmes, initiatives and projects toward the achievement of regional and continental economic integration objectives.
The meeting is part of the implementation of the AfCFTA, which entered into force on Jan. 1.