Deputy President Paul Mashatile says the success of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) depends on the investment in infrastructure in the areas of electricity generation, transportation, as well as freight and logistics distribution.
“This is because Africa’s trade integration has been hampered for decades by the ageing infrastructure and too many regulations which require reforms,” Mashatile said.
Addressing the All Africa Business Leaders Awards on Friday, the Deputy President said investing in infrastructure is crucial to unlocking the potential for Africa to experience growth at faster rates but more importantly, to ensure inclusive diversification.
“In this regard, we welcome the launch by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) of the Africa Trade Gateway (ATG), a suite of five digital platforms providing critical services to support and promote African trade and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
“We must surely invest in infrastructure because it is a critical driver of success across Africa. It makes a substantial contribution to human development and poverty alleviation,” he said.
The Deputy President said Africa is on the right path of development and towards one African market.
“As it stands, the AfCFTA agreement has effectively created the largest free trade area in the world, measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion.
“It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty and 68 million Africans from moderate poverty. The creation of the vast AfCFTA regional market is a major opportunity to help African countries diversify their exports, accelerate growth, and attract foreign direct investment,” Mashatile said.
He said Africa is brimming with opportunities and the continent has what it takes to be great.
“We must dig into our continent’s riches and turn difficulties into possibilities. Africa has a lot of natural resources, which is good news for building value chains. Agriculture and the extraction industries are important parts of value chains at the national, regional and worldwide levels.
“Africa has 60% world’s uncultivated arable land. It makes up 13% of the world’s oil. At least half of the world’s diamond riches are also in Africa. Cobalt, nickel, lithium, manganese, uranium and rare earth metals, which are important for clean energy and the future, are mostly found in Africa,” the Deputy President said.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo produces 58% of the world’s cobalt, which is used to make electronics, and South Africa produces 69.6% of the world’s platinum. – SAnews.gov.za