In a momentous occasion at the Port of Durban, President Cyril Ramaphosa marked the launch of preferential trade by South Africa under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This groundbreaking initiative aims to bolster intra-African trade and foster economic growth across the continent.
Surrounded by key figures, including Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Ms Nomusa Dube-Ncube, and Secretary General of the AfCFTA, Mr Wamkele Mene, President Ramaphosa emphasized the historical significance of this event, signaling a transformative era for Africa’s economic landscape.
The president expressed his enthusiasm for the first shipment of South African products destined for fellow AfCFTA countries, underscoring the tangible realization of the AfCFTA’s potential. He highlighted the need for African nations to shift from being primary exporters of raw materials to fostering industrialization within the continent.
President Ramaphosa commended the progress made in finalizing rules of origin, stressing the importance of products being truly ‘Made in Africa.’ While goods trade has progressed, he urged increased efforts in developing African champions in finance, retail, telecommunications, and expanding tourism.
Drawing attention to the auto industry as an example, the president showcased the intricate value chains that span across African countries, emphasizing the potential for growth with bold rules of origin. As the world embraces green industrialization, Africa is well-positioned to leverage its critical minerals for sustainable development.
The AfCFTA, touted as the world’s largest free trade area by the number of countries involved, promises transformative change and vast opportunities for African economies. President Ramaphosa emphasized the core role of industrial development in fostering regional integration and diversifying trade.
While celebrating the positive impact on trade, the president also highlighted the need to address the relatively low levels of intra-African trade compared to global standards. Preferential trade under AfCFTA is anticipated to open up significant opportunities for South Africa and other African countries, spurring economic growth and development.
President Ramaphosa concluded by expressing gratitude to the AfCFTA Secretariat, the Council of Ministers, and exporters who embraced this opportunity. From the quayside in Durban to ports and border posts across the continent, a new era of growth and prosperity is heralded, offering a promising future for Africa and its people.