Bright Simons to African leaders: Don’t make AfCFTA a rhetorical enterprise

Simons says the continent needs policy innovations which reflect the ideas of member states

Bright Simons, the vice-president of IMANI Ghana, has cautioned African leaders against making the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) an exercise in rhetoric.

Speaking at the just-ended Kusi Ideas Festival in Accra, Simons said the continent must leverage technology to ensure that marginalised sections of societies in Africa are not left behind.

He also set out the intersecting roles that could be played by the private sector, the youth, policymakers and industry players, all working towards the public interest.

“The [youth] could use technology to find solutions to irrigation challenges,” he said.

Simons said the continent needs policy innovations which reflect the ideas and interests of member states with regard to particular areas of industry, especially if the continent intends to thrive through the AfCFTA.

Data from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) shows that the continent’s untapped export potential stands at US$21.9 billion, equivalent to 43% of intra-African exports.

An additional export potential of $9.2 billion could be realised through liberalising tariffs partially under the AfCFTA over the next five years.

About Kusi Ideas

Nation Media Group (NMG) launched the Kusi Ideas Festival in 2019 during its 60th-anniversary celebrations. The festival aims to be an “ideas transaction market” for the challenges facing Africa, and for the various solutions and innovations the continent is undertaking to secure its future in the 21st century.

The kusi is the southerly trade wind that blows across the Indian Ocean between April and mid-September, and enabled trade up north along the East African coast and between Asia and Africa for millennia.

Beyond trade, over the centuries, the kusi and other trade winds made possible cultural, intellectual and technological exchanges, and considerably shaped the history of the nations on the east coast of Africa, the eastern hinterland, and the wider Indian Ocean rim.

In the 21st century, the spirits of the trade winds express themselves in new ways. The Indian Ocean is a rich bed for the fibre-optic cables that make the Information Age possible in a large part of Africa.

The first Kusi Ideas Festival was held in Kigali, Rwanda, and was co-hosted by President Paul Kagame.

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