The African Continental Free Trade Area will constitute the world’s largest free trade area, consolidating an integrated market of 1.3 billion consumers with combined Gross Domestic Product of about 3.4 trillion dollars.
The President of Africa Development Bank, Akinwunmi Adesina, said this at the ongoing “54th Annual Meetings’’ of the bank in Malabo.
According to him, it is estimated that Africa’s GDP growth can 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 one billion dollars through various initiatives, including cross border infrastructure to move trade across African borders.
The president of the bank said most of the funds had gone to small and medium enterprises, the engine of economic growth.
He said that 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.
According to him, 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.
Also speaking, Cesar Mba-Abogo, Equatorial Guinea Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said his country had made significant effort on the economic and infrastructure front to connect markets in Central Africa.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the theme of this year’s meeting is “Regional Integration for Africa’s Economic Prosperity’’.
The Annual Meetings provide opportunities for experts, governments, businesses, civil society, think-tanks and the academia to share their candid assessments on regional integration efforts and dialogue on critical issues concerning Africa’s development.
The meeting which opened on Monday with closed door sessions with dignitaries continues on Wednesday.