Interview: We need dialogue to spread the wealth through AfCFTA

In an exclusive interview, executive director of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa says: We need dialogue to ensure that AfCFTA brings prosperity to Africa.

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The executive director of the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA), Souad Aden-Osman, is confident that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will benefit Africans, but believes this will require dialogue between stakeholders to allow a full understanding of its objectives, structures and policies.  

Why has CoDA backed the implementation of the AfCFTA so firmly? 

CoDA is a platform for dialogue and debate, established over 10 years ago. Its purpose is to promote greater synergy among stakeholders concerning the major development issues of African countries. In fact, African unity only makes sense if economic integration is at the heart of the concerns of the African Union (AU). And today it is.

In addition, to date, the AfCFTA, is by far the most ambitious regional integration programme that the AU has put forward. This project can significantly and profoundly change the lives of Africans.

In November 2019, you held a dialogue with African chambers of commerce about the AfCFTA in Addis Ababa. What were the most important points?
The private sector plays a vital role in African development. Right now we need to create a dynamic that will allow everyone to play their part in the implementation of the AfCFTA. The opportunities for the private sector in terms of investments and expansion are significant.

The AU Commission is well equipped to lead this forward. CoDA’s role is to promote dialogue between public and private stakeholders under the auspices of the AU.

We can be cautiously optimistic that everything is in place for this to work. All that needs to be done is to oil the mechanism and the dream of a prosperous Africa cherished for so many years by the “founding fathers” will become a reality. In any case, we are marching boldly forward.

Everyone thinks that the AfCFTA is the panacea for the ills that are undermining the continent. Is this an exaggeration?

It is true that we expect a lot from the implementation of the AfCFTA. The AU is taking positive actions to make this African aspiration a reality. The decisions currently taken will effectively promote entrepreneurship among women and young people and will create millions of jobs. We are certain that the AfCFTA will be a pan-African success. 

The experts say that the process is advancing but the populations are not totally convinced. What do you think at CoDA?
We need to get started. All of us. We are committed to succeeding. We are working alongside the AU. 

In 2020 isn’t it time Africa claimed its right to happiness? The Africa of the AfCFTA is the Africa that wins, protects, reassures, shares and defines itself as a single bloc. We will get there, because nowhere is it written that prosperity needs a visa to come to Africa. Our continent is the future.

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