Rwanda readies to ratify Africa free-trade treaty

Friday April 13 2018

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame signs trade

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame signs trade agreements during the 10th Extraordinary Session of the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit in Kigali on March 20, 2018. PHOTO | PRESIDENCY 

By MOSES K. GAHIGI
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Rwanda has moved a step closer to opening its market after Cabinet approved a Bill seeking to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) treaty.

It becomes the second East African country after Kenya to endorse the agreement for the trading bloc.

The AfCFTA will establish a single market with duty-free access that is meant to spur industrialisation, infrastructure development and economic diversification across Africa, home to more than 1.2 billion people.

The deal was signed by 44 countries in Kigali in March and requires 22 of them to ratify it before it takes effect.

President Paul Kagame chaired the Cabinet meeting that approved the treaty.

It will now be presented in Parliament for debate and approval for it to become law.

The private sector has been challenged to develop tradable products and services for exports to other African countries.

“We have our young people that are highly skilled in IT skills, software engineering; these are services we can export, we can also build on these as a springboard,” said Faustin Mbundu, the former chairman of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF).

He noted that the best way to take advantage of the free trade area is to first ensure that Rwanda grows its exports within the East African region.

“How are we processing our goods and exporting them within these countries?” he posed.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also approved for ratification bilateral trade deals between Rwanda and Ethiopia, Morocco and Djibouti.