ADDIS ABABA: 27 NOVEMBER, 2019 – African Business Roundtable (ABR) together with heads of other business associations, trade groups and stakeholders in African private sector development, engaged the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) in very robust discussions at the ‘Policy Dialogue of African Business Associations on Implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. The stakeholder dialogue held at the Plenary Hall, 2nd Floor, Old Conference Building, African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 26 and 27 November, 2019 was jointly organized by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB), African Export – Import Bank (AFREXIM) and the AfroChampions Initiative
The main objective of the Forum was to bring African business organizations and leading businesses together to gain a deeper understanding of AfCFTA objectives, landscape, sectoral policies and institutional arrangements with a view to supporting the implementation process and taking advantage of the opportunities presented by a continental single market, which the operational phase is expected to commence in July 2020. The Forum was well attended with more than 150 delegates from leading pan-Africa business associations, regional business councils and sectoral interest groups.
His Excellency Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Chair of CoDA gave the ‘Key Note Address’ at the Forum; while H.E. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner, Department of Trade & Industry (DTI), African Union Commission (AUC) gave the ‘Opening Remarks’. Representatives of AFREXIM Bank, Africa Development Bank, Africa Capacity Building Foundation, Afrochampions Initiative all gave highlights of their institutions’ activities in support of AfCFTA implementation.
ABR President, Samuel Dossou-Aworet, chaired the Panel Session on – Regional Policies in Support of AfCFTA: Productive Capacities, Trade Facilitation, and Trade Defense Measures & Trade Deflection on 26th November, 2019. During the session, he highlighted the need for coordinated governance structure and capacity building, simplified and harmonized cross-border regulations, procedures and standards along the transit corridors, improvements of transport and logistics, elimination of NTBs, and improvements of security which will result in significant and measurable reductions in transport time and cost requirements. Mr. Dossou stressed the importance to improve productive capacities and facilitate trade in Africa through provision of quality trade related infrastructure to enhance export competitiveness and investment readiness.
He stated that ABR will make significant contributions by undertaking concrete projects in this regard, such as the ‘Project Epine dorsale (Backbone Project), an integrated transportation infrastructure project involving Construction of Deep seaport, railway line connecting Benin Republic, Niger Republic, Northwest and Southwest Nigeria and opening up other landlocked countries in West Africa through a Dry Port which is completed and ready to go into operation.