The COVID-19 crisis is not a reason to delay the commencement of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement on 1 July but rather a reason to accelerate it, say a group of leading African business figures.
In an open letter to African Heads of State published by the AfroChampions Initiative they call for a COVID-accelerated phase one in to start in July 2020 and a COVID-delayed phase two to go ahead when the pandemic has eased.
The AfCFTA can help contribute to beat Covid-19 – through the free trade of pharmaceuticals and PPE – and to speed up post-COVID economic recovery, they argue. Full AfCFTA trading should be postponed to early 2021 but negotiations should continue via online platforms, and the AfCFTA Secretariat should be fully operationalised.
COVID-19 has a silver lining for Africa as it opens the door for industrialisation and the AfCFTA is an opportunity to capitalise on it that must not be lost, they argue.
The AfroChampions Initiative has also published its AfCFTA Year Zero Report and Rankings, which provides a baseline of the continent’s readiness for start of trade. The open letter can be read on the African Business website.