Midrand, South Africa: The Second Ordinary Session of the Sixth Pan-African Parliament (PAP) continued this morning (22 May 2023) with a workshop underscoring the theme of the African Union for the year 2023: “Accelerating the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): The Strategic Significance of the Pan-African Parliament”. The aim of the seminar is to unbundle the African Free Trade Area and to define the role of the Pan-African Parliament in accelerating the effective implementation of the AfCFTA.
Officially opening the workshop, PAP President, H.E Chief Fortune Charumbira said the Members of PAP must critically analyse and dissect the bottlenecks and stumbling blocks that have stand in the way of integrated free trade in Africa. Hon. Charumbira noted that once realized, AfCFTA will bring about economic growth and prosperity which will address all he challenges on the continent, including inflation, unemployment, the energy crisis and shortages of critical commodities such as fertilizers. He further stressed that women will benefit most from free trade, as they will earn more, and about 50 million people could escape extreme poverty.
The PAP President implored on the PAP Members to push for their individual countries to take a common position on trade in Africa, calling on governments to ensure that 40% of all government procurement be from within Africa.
President of the African Business Council (ABC), Dr. Amany Asfour said that the private sector alone cannot do it alone, and therefore need the legislature to create an enabling environment and responsive legislation that will see a standardized, harmonized and strong trade atmosphere. “We must integrate the private sector, rural women, women in general, entrepreneurs and youth, all must be players in the AfCFTA”, said Dr. Asfour. The ABC President also expressed that PAP has a pivotal role to play to engage the private sector as what is found in Africa cannot be imported back into Africa and that it was time for Africa to add value to all its natural resources in order to meet the demands of the future. “Economic Liberation and empowerment is important to realize our financial independence, it will give us back our power and voice that will see us become a competitive and industrialised Africa”.
In his parting remarks, Hon. Charumbira called for Africans to change their perspective of the continent and be proud of what is theirs, urging all to eat, drink and wear from amongst ourselves.