Abuja, Nov. 26, 2023: The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has pledged support for the Private Sector Bill of Rights (PSBoR) to establish a conducive trade and investment climate in intra-African trade across the continent.
This is contained in a statement signed by Ms Grace Khoza, Principal Communications Advisor, AfCFTA Secretariat on Sunday.
The statement said the PSBoR, leverages the protocols of Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the AfCFTA Agreement, ratified by 47 African countries and signed by 54 member states as at yet.
It said the bill was a pioneering initiative proposed by the Africa Private Sector Summit (APSS) in partnership with the Pan Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI).
“In a bid to work in close partnership with the private sector, the AfCFTA Secretariat hosted a Private Sector Session in collaboration with APSS, which led an Ecosystem-based side event at the just concluded Intra-African Trade Fair [IATF] 2023 in Cairo.
“Other parties in the APSS-led ecosystem included the PACCI, AfCFTA Policy Network (APN), and the African Education Trust Fund (AETF).
“The event emphasised the importance of the Charter on Private Sector Development, Rights and Protection Environment in Africa and the PSBoR for an enabling business environment in Africa.
“The AfCTFA Secretariat is committed to supporting the private sector and therefore, brings the PSBoR into mainstream African economic integration discussions, by leading the APSS Ecosystem-based intervention.”
The statement said the private sector was a critical driver in the implementation of the AfCFTA, therefore, engaging with key stakeholders through this session was essential.
“Working with Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and strategic partners alongside economic actors contributes toward creating a conducive environment for businesses to thrive under the AfCFTA Agreement.”
The statement quoted the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, as saying “the private sector is the core pillar for achieving the AfCFTA goals because the private sector creates jobs, fosters innovation, and enables fair competition for business in the continent.
“The PSBoR will be included into the AfCFTA report to the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments of the AU, in February 2024.
“More so, in the context of the African Union’s 2023 theme of the year of “Acceleration of the AfCFTA Implementation”.
It also quoted Prof. Kingsley Moghalu, Chairman, APSS, as saying “only 16 per cent of Africa’s global trade is regional within the continent, in stark contrast to 68 per cent in Europe, 59 per cent in Asia, and 30 per cent in North America.
“When fully implemented, the AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-African trade by 52 per cent, lift 30 million people out of poverty, and increase the continent’s Gross Domestic Product by billion dollars by 2035.”
Moghalu emphasised the PSBoR Charter as a companion instrument to RECs and AfCFTA, vital in delivering the vision encapsulated in the AU’s Agenda 2063, “The Africa We Want.”
The statement said the Joint AfCFTA Private Sector Session marked a groundbreaking step towards the creation of a Single African market through the AfCFTA and led by the private sector.
“Ensuring that the latter has the required support is paramount to the success of the implementation.
“The emphasis on the PSBoR and the ecosystem approach underscored the pledge of both AfCFTA and APSS to shape a prosperous and interconnected future for the continent. ”
It said participants were exhorted to encourage their respective business associations, chambers of commerce, regulatory institutions, and governmental bodies at national and subnational levels to warmly embrace the PSBoR.
“The bill should be embraced as an instrument for creating the enabling business environment the continent needs to achieve Agenda 2063.
“The clarion call ‘all aboard AfCFTA-APSS Ecosystem Train’ will see to it that Africa achieves Agenda 2063 and gets to the 4th Industrial Revolution ready and transformed in record time.”
The statement said in an ambitious move APSS, under its Ubuntu Ecosystem Strategy, also labelled as the AfCFTA-APSS Ecosystem Train, was inaugurating a comprehensive engagement process with African leaders and governments across five geographic regions and the diaspora.
It said in furtherance to this, APSS had restructured, thereby creating an Advisory Board and an Executive Board, with nominations from Africa’s five geographic regions with the Diaspora.
“The aim of the campaign is to enable the vetting, validation, and adoption of the 24 rights within the proposed PSBoR.
“The rights encompass various aspects, including peace, security, stability, effective legal systems, harmonised quality assurance standards, and a robust consultative relationship between the public and private sectors”.