AfCFTA awareness creation campaigns commence

Sensitizing and informing
The Erongo governor urged local business owners to understand and take full advantage of the opportunities under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Leandrea Mouers
The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade (MIT) in collaboration with the Namibia Trade Forum (NTF) under the UNDP support program conducted an awareness creation campaign on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. A session was hosted with local business owners in Swakopmund.

The African Continental Free Trade Area is aimed at boosting intra-African trade, and enhancing regional and continental value chains, through the establishment of viable and competitive industries in the continent.

The campaign's main aim is to share and disseminate information on the agreement establishing the AfCFTA. The engagement includes sensitizing the business community on the opportunities and benefits presented by the agreement.

Sofia Nambahu, the development finance specialist of the UNDP Namibia, on behalf of Alka Bhatia, the UNDP resident representative of Namibia stated that understanding what this continental trade agreement is about is critical for leveraging the opportunities and benefits that come with it.

“The implementation of the AfCFTA can potentially transform the Namibian economy massively. There is evidence that shows that if the AfCFTA is correctly implemented in Namibia, the country could realise a 4.1% (or US$ 1.85 bn) and 4.2% (or US$ 1.93 bn) GDP growth as well as an increase in the country’s exports between 2.8% and 2.9%.”

She added that it is also evident that enhancing the capacity of MSMEs will drive structural economic transformation through trade and investment to create resilient, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth and development in Africa.

“We are convinced that if dedicated support is deployed at scale to capacitate the informal sector and MSMEs effectively, Namibia stands to maximise positive development gains from the AfCFTA. We have thus directed our efforts in supporting the implementation of AfCFTA in Namibia with a focus on the informal sector and MSMEs, especially those engaged in by women and youth.”

Nambahu said that so far UNDP is rolling out an initiative to train and sensitise at least 250 youth and women to understand the AfCFTA and maximise the benefits from their participation in it.

“UNDP also provides innovative financing schemes to at least 200 MSMEs and capacity development support to enhance their productive capacity and competitiveness in trade-related interventions. At the national level, we are also working with the Government through MIT and NTF to support the implementation of AfCFTA. In this regard, sustained engagement with the private sector is very critical.”

The governor of the Erongo region, Neville Andre stated that the potential benefits from this agreement include larger market access, improved competitiveness, improved production capacity, and improves living standards and the possibility of employment creation.

“These benefits are not automatic and member states including Namibia will need to implement the agreement in order to harness such benefits. It is imperative for Namibian business communities to prepare and take full advantage of the benefits offered under the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement. This entails identifying importers of goods and services, increasing production capacities, diversification and adding value to our raw materials as well as ensuring that our produce is finding its place of exports on the African continent.”

The start of trading under the AfCFTA was officially launched in January 2021, but commercial trade is yet to commence.

“This provides us with a perfect opportunity to prepare and gain a better understanding of what the African Continental Free Trade Area is all about. Erongo region remains an important economic hub that houses key industries such as the fishing sector, mining, logistics and transport, and tourism services. The region continues to be one of the dominant players in Namibia’s economic growth. Given the region’s dominance in economic activities, a clear understanding of what the AfCFTA has in store will help the region tap into the opportunities presented and increase its contribution to sustainable economic development.”

The governor stated that the significance of AfCFTA cannot be overstated.

“To reap the benefits depend on how well we embrace these opportunities. The onus lies in our hands to take full advantage and boost intra - continental trade. The awareness campaign comes at a reasonable time and as a region, we need to position ourselves and ensure that we see a positive change in our economic challenges through the AfCFTA.”