Kenya has launched its National African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Implementation Strategy 2022-2027 to boost opportunities for industrial diversification, investment and job creation.
The strategy also aims at deepening relations with other countries in the African Continent which has a population of over 1.3 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of over USD 3.4 trillion.
Speaking during the launch of the Strategy and unveiling of AfCFTA National Implementation Committee held at a Nairobi hotel today, the Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, Ms. Betty Maina said AfCFTA will help the country‘s trade expansion into untapped African markets.
The CS said the purpose of the strategy is to leverage deeper integration within the framework of AfCFTA to facilitate an expansion of Kenya’s trade and investment in Africa, support structural transformation and foster economic growth and sustainable development.
Ms Maina said Kenya being among the pilot countries in the AfCFTA initiative on guided trade has already established an Ad hoc committee that will be in charge of coordinating the initiative, identifying the export products and facilitating product market access.
She at the same time encouraged private sector among them Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to work with her ministry to ensure that the country makes meaningful gains from trading in products where Kenya has a competitive edge.
“The government is determined to develop decisive policy actions to enhance economic diversification, unleash the private sector’s potential and address the existing challenges in order to unlock the benefits of the AfCFTA,” said Ms. Maina.
The CS at the same time noted that African countries, Kenya included need to address the infrastructure gap in order to facilitate the efficient and affordable movement of goods and services across borders.
She said it is expected that the Program for the Infrastructural Development of Africa (PIDA) under the African Union will aid the attainment of AfCTA goals by facilitating the movements of goods, services, people and capital across the continent, as well as support the development of regional value chains.
Ms. Maina said the Implementation strategy seeks to increase gross domestic product, increase the production and consumption of locally produced goods and services, increase the size and scope of the manufacturing sector and other value added exports, develop and strengthen regional value chains, boost Kenyan exports to Africa outside of the East Africa Community and COMESA –Free Trade Agreement and to boost trade in services exports.
She said strategy has identified agriculture, livestock, fisheries, mining, oil and gas, handicraft, business, tourism, education, health, financial, ICT, cultural and sports services and transport and logistics as its priority sectors for competitiveness under AfCFTA.
“These priorities are aligned with Kenya’s national development goals and aspirations, the Integrated National Export Development and promotion Strategy and the Big Four Agenda,” added Ms. Maina.
The CS said the national implementation committee’s mandate is to implement the AfCFTA agreement and Kenya’s national strategy, mainstreaming gender and youth in strategy implementation, managing communications and implementing the communication plan, mobilizing sufficient financing for the strategy implementation, managing risks associated with strategy implementation among others.
Ms. Maina said Kenya is committed to the implementation of the AfCFTA so that the business people can benefit from the readily available single market for goods and services under AfCFTA.
“My ministry is keen to work with negotiators from across Africa towards development of flexible and progressive trade rules that facilitate deeper market access for African produced goods and services, while ensuring that AfCFTA does not get stuck in endless negotiations,” she stated.
In his remarks, the Director, regional Integration and Trade Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Dr. Stephen Karingi said UNECA has partnered with Kenya to implement measures that will foster increased and efficient trade amongst African countries under the AfCFTA and negotiations in trade in goods and trade in services.
He said final drafts of negotiations in the areas of investment, competition, intellectual property, e-commerce, women and youth in trade are expected to be complete by September 2022.
“With this National Strategy, Kenya is ready to take advantage of the newly available continental market. Already Africa is Kenya’s main market, leading by approximately 42 per cent of its share of exports in 2020, surpassing the traditional European and Asian markets in previous decades,” said Dr. Karingi.
He added that Kenya’s membership with the East African Community (EAC) also plays a key role in trade, integration and economic growth with the neighbouring countries, and will use AfCFTA to access untapped markets.
The Regional Director urged all stakeholders among them private sector groups and business community to own the strategy in order to partner with government for its implementation and benefit.
By Bernadette Khaduli