AfCFTA’ll be world’s largest free trade area, says AfDB

AfCFTA world’s largest free tradeAfrican Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) will constitute the world’s largest free trade area, consolidating an integrated market of 1.3 billion consumers with combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $3.4 trillion, the African Development Bank (AfDB), said yesterday.

Its President, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, who spoke at the ongoing 54th Annual Meetings of the bank in Malabo, said it is estimated that Africa’s GDP growth would reach about six per cent a year in a continent without borders.

He said: “With the agreement on AfCFTA in March 2018, which is now at the threshold of its inauguration in July, regional integration has gained momentum. If we get our integration right, Africa will be more competitive, will be able to create a massive amount of jobs and more importantly, Africa can develop in dignity and confidence,’’

Adesina said the bank had also invested about $1billion 677through various initiatives, including cross border infrastructure to move trade across African borders.  he explained that most of the funds had gone to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which is the engine of economic growth.

He said Equatorial Guinea was selected to host the bank’s Annual Meetings because of its economic potential and because Africa could benefit a great deal from regional integration.

“We believe that the potential is immense, but the level of integration is not enough. Regional integration is one of the bank’s High 5s and is seen as pivotal to boosting Africa’s economic development,” Adesina said.