The Bank sponsored Conversation with Africa Forum 2021, its third Edition, a key platform supporting this vision, hosted from the 19th-20th of October under the theme, ‘Scaling up the production for African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) market.’ The Bank says the engagement wholly aligns to the Bank’s Purpose to drive growth for and with Batswana and indeed across Africa, working to promote Intra Africa Trade in order for the African continent to be a competitive global partner and, importantly, for the full realisation of AfCFTA.
Conversation with Africa presents an opportunity for the business community, business leaders, diplomatic community, Chambers of Commerce in Africa, regional and international business leaders, senior government officials in the region and the globe and developmental partners from all spheres, to have a dialogue on topical issues, reforms and paramount frameworks to build the “Africa We want.” The engagement, supported by a Forum Review subsequently held, worked to further build awareness, provide insights for all Africa, encourage growth of businesses, identify inhibitors and enablers. These factors indubitably shape how businesses can better utilise technology to reinvent their business models and scale up on talent production within Africa.
Opening the forum review session, Conversation with Africa Patron and Chairman of Nairobi Securities, Kiprono Kittony, EBS said, “Follow through is essential if we are going to enjoy the dividends of the trade agreement and to actually breathe life into the conversations that we intend to have and make a meaningful impact as stakeholders in Africa. We live in interesting and unprecedented times. Africa, like many economies globally have been affected by COVID-19, however despite the challenges thrown at us, and the fact that Africa contributes only 4 percent of the global trade and 2 percent of global investment, there is no doubt that we are the continent which has a great opportunity for the future we reside in. The AfCFTA has been rightly described as a once in a generation prospect for our continent. According to the World Bank, implementing this agreement will lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty and boost the incomes of nearly 68 million of those who live on USD6 a day. We have to scale up on talent production to grow and unlock opportunities in Africa and that is through acquiring technical skills.”
The Africa Continental Free Trade Area negotiations commenced in June 2015 as part of the Africa Union agenda to further promote integration within the continent. This includes harmonization of tariff regimes, tax regimes as well as other legal frameworks to facilitate seamless movement of people, goods and services across the continent. So far Fifty-Four (54) out of the Fifty-Five (55) African countries have signed onto the agreement establishing the AfCFTA while Thirty-Eight (38) have already deposited instruments of ratification with the AfCFTA secretariat. Botswana has signed the AfCFTA agreement and is on track to complete ratification.
“The AfCFTA aims to boost intra-African trade by providing a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among the member states. Platforms like Conversation with Africa support this, fostering integration across the nations, communities, and individuals within the continent and in the diaspora towards successful implementation of the AfCFTA,”said Stanbic Bank Botswana Head of Trade & Africa China Banking, Mr. Akofang Kebonye, who served as a panelist during the forum review. The opportunities arising from the AfCFTA cannot be emphasised enough. The Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the AfCFTA will boost intra-Africa Trade by more that 52 percent if import duties are eliminated and even more if non-tariff barriers are also reduced. This comes from a collective market of 1.3 billion people and a total GDP of over USD2.5 trillion across all the countries in Africa.
Akofang further added, “In order to harness this opportunity, it is imperative that through platforms such as these, we continue to foster integration across the continent, between public and private sectors and all segments and industries within the private sector. We are breaking down barriers and changing mindsets to enable free movement of people, goods and services as well as cash at minimal cost. This includes harmonisation of tariffs, tax regimes and payment systems. It is encouraging to note some of the initiatives that we are realising from conversations such as this are gearing us towards progression.”
Stanbic Bank Botswana continues to support platforms that have embedded sustainability and economic growth in their DNA and recognise conversations that add value to the lives of Botswana. The Bank is resolute in its belief that Botswana is our home; we drive her growth and the same applies to the beloved continent of Africa.