Weak transport links could hamper intra-Africa trade

Tuesday March 20 2018

Participants at a session during the

Participants at a session during the extraordinary African Union summit in Kigali on March 20, 2018. The African Continental Free Trade Area, to be signed on March 21, is expected to boost intra-African trade. PHOTO | RWANDA PRESIDENCY 

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Weak transport links could hinder the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), experts at the ongoing African Union Summit in Kigali say.

The CFTA agreement is set to signed on Wednesday by heads of State during the extraordinary AU summit. The agreement targets to boost intra-Africa trade by making Africa a single market with a population of 1.2 billion people and cumulated GDP of more than $3.4 billion.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) secretary-general Mukhisa Kituyi, poor infrastructure could hamper the continent from realising the benefits of the treaty.

“You cannot talk of CFTA when the infrastructure and roads system in Africa move from inward towards the coasts and [border] posts. This means that our systems are built to depend on trade with the outside world and not among ourselves. We need to develop infrastructure that promotes intra-Africa trade,” Mr Kituyi said.

“We need to talk about border to border trade, and think about how to facilitate small businesses if the CFTA is to benefit us as we want.”