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How AfCFTA can pull over 12m W’Africans out of extreme poverty

Victor Uzoho

The Managing Director, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Desk of the Centurion Law Group, Zion Adeoye, has said AfCFTA can pull approximately 12 million people out of extreme poverty in West Africa.

He said the initiative, which was established in 2018, represents Africa’s biggest opportunity for the next few decades in its battle against the poverty of all forms, and can deliver more than a third of the total extremely poor people in Africa out of poverty from the West African region alone.

Adeoye, who spoke in a statement made available to Sustainable Economy, called for the speedy implementation of AfCFTA to save the tens of millions of Africans that were plunged into extreme poverty by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, it is projected that under the AfCFTA, extreme poverty will significantly decline across the continent; however, he noted that beyond the eradication of extreme poverty, it was about time that the true economic might of Africa is realised through intra-African trade.

“Compared with Asia and Europe with 59% and 68% intra-continental trade, only 17% of exports from African countries are intra-continental (World Economic Forum), due to age-long tariff and non-tariff barriers, which the AfCFTA is essentially established to eliminate.

“The fact that intra-African trade constitutes only about 2% of global trade means there are significant gains to be realised if the AfCFTA is properly implemented. A continent that controls vast resources and a 1.2 billion-strong consumer market should be an economic no-brainer of success, especially considering its young burgeoning and vibrant population.

“The African socio-economic and political construct under the AfCFTA dispensation must be able to provide security for the youth- security of livelihood, security of movement, security of innovation, security of lives and property. AfCFTA must be driven by the raw socioeconomic and might of a young and vibrant population and SMEs, not big government and big multinationals,” Adeoye said.

A continent that controls vast resources and a 1.2 billion-strong consumer market should be an economic no-brainer of success, especially considering its young burgeoning and vibrant population.

Infrastructure development

On infrastructure, he explained that the African Development Bank (AfDB) estimated that Africa’s infrastructure needs amount to $130–$170 billion yearly, with a financing gap ranging between $67.6 and $107.5 billion.

However, he noted that beyond the lack of funds, which is always the first to be touted, the lack of cooperation on infrastructure by African states has been a setback to the development of Africa.

To make the AfCFTA work, Adeoye stressed the need to connect African economies both regionally and on a continental scale through reliable infrastructure, which is conceptualised, financed, and protected in common.

“Duplication and waste in infrastructural development must be jettisoned for optimal development of a regional or continental infrastructural blueprint.

“Cooperation on infrastructure must include security infrastructure. What happens in the North of Mozambique should not be disconnected from solutions deployed in the South of Nigeria. We cannot promote trade without protecting production and investment across the continent.

“Mozambique’s insurgence problem is not just a Mozambican or Southern African issue, it is a threat to the entire continent and there must be concern and commitment to action in Abuja and Accra as there is in Pretoria and Pemba,” he added.

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