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The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will make Africa the world's largest free trade area and boost Africa's GDP.

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louis Buyisiwe

Feb 27, 2024

Driving Unity Across Borders: A Vision of Seamless Connectivity in Africa through AfCFTA

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) most times reffered to as (ZLECAF) is set to be a significant milestone for Africa, heralding what many experts and stakeholders are calling a "historic turning point" for the continent's economy. The initiative aims to create a single market for goods, services, capital, and people across Africa, thereby increasing intra-African trade, which has been relatively low compared to Africa's trade with other regions. This move is expected to have a substantial positive impact on Africa's overall GDP.

A key aspect of ZLECAF's potential impact is the liberalization of tariff and non-tariff barriers, which would facilitate the free movement of goods and services across the continent. This could lead to a more diversified and sophisticated industrial and service sector in participating countries, driven by access to a larger continental market. For instance, Ivorian industries, among others, stand to gain significantly from this development, provided they are well-prepared to leverage the opportunities that the larger market presents.

However, alongside these opportunities, some challenges need to be addressed to fully realize the benefits of ZLECAF. One of the primary concerns is the need for countries to improve their productive capacities and diversify their industrial offerings to compete effectively in the larger market. There is also a need for coherent and complementary commercial, industrial, and financial policies to support the implementation of ZLECAF.

Moreover, the implementation of ZLECAF could lead to increased competition, necessitating that companies across Africa enhance their competitiveness. The success of this initiative will require a concerted effort from both public authorities and the private sector to prepare adequately for the changes and challenges ahead.

In summary, the implementation of ZLECAF represents a transformative opportunity for Africa's economic integration and growth. By eliminating trade barriers and creating a single continental market, ZLECAF has the potential to significantly boost intra-African trade, contribute to economic diversification, and increase the continent's overall GDP. However, achieving these outcomes will depend on the ability of African countries and businesses to navigate the challenges and leverage the opportunities presented by this historic initiative.

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