President Paul Kagame has requested African leaders to move with a sense of urgency in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to boost economic value on the continent.
He was speaking during a televised conversation dubbed ‘Ask the President’ on the national broadcaster, on Tuesday, July 4, where he got to answer some of the national key concerns across different sectors.
With the operationalization to establish a unified market of 1.3 billion people and a GDP of around $3.4 trillion in 2021, the AfCFTA is poised to become the world’s largest free trade area with 55 member states.
However, some of the important protocols of rules of origin have not yet taken shape while about 47 countries have ratified their instruments of AfCFTA agreement.
Kagame said that having AfCFTA that works for everybody is still hindered by some legacy problems and misinterpretation of what the agreement means whereby countries stick to protecting the sovereignty and miss out on opportunities presented.
“Your sovereignty is just a name if it does not entail freedom of people to work within and across the countries,” he emphasized.
Political will is always going to be important because it is what will allow freedom of movement of people and goods, he added.
“If we can have people cross borders with what they produce and the others do the same, they benefit more with having such a big market. AfCFTA is a huge asset and not a liability.”
In his view, having the unity of seeing how a country relates with another as a good opportunity rather than problematic, is critical in addressing the long time issue of the continent’s failed prosperity despite being endowed with human and natural resources.
Rwanda’s development continuity
On the quest towards becoming a middle-income country, the Head of State noted that there is no need to change strategies or policies in place, rather building on them for the continuity of the development, improving people’s standards of living to reach a certain level in a given time.
With the vision 2020 that brought the country to the current state of development over the past 20 years, Kagame said that there is an existing clear path despite some external factors, often out of control, that may compel the country to change strategies or policies.
The need for change in any of these processes depends on circumstances. So what is happening? But in my view we already have a path where we have clear policies and strategies and so far what has delivered what we have from 2000 to 2020 with the vision 2020.
While it is hard to get 100 percent of target, he said that in most cases, one may not want to change the policies or strategies but the ways in which you try to achieve what you want, and this is by insisting more on accountability, invest more resources in lacking areas, and have more people commitment towards the cause.
“For instance, there is still a need to invest in people in terms of education, health, and skills development. So, that is one thing that really doesn’t change but requires more attention and more Investments.”
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