Experts have said that for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to be more successful and sustainable, the young generation need to play a key role in its implementation.
They were speaking on Monday at an event organised by Pan African Movement (PAM) Rwanda Chapter's youth commission on Monday to discuss the role of the youth in the implementation of AfCFTA in Kigali.
According to Vincent Munyeshyaka, former Minister for Trade and Industry, and a member of Pan African Movement Rwanda, AfCFTA presents an opportunity for Africa as it is one market of 1.2 billion customers.
He said it was an opportunity for African countries to increase intra-Africa trade which accounts for only three per cent of global trade, while the trade within African countries accounts for between 15 and 16 per cent.
"Africa is trading more with foreign countries than with itself," he said.
"We need to look at the AfCFTA agreement as an opportunity to increase trade with the rest of the world as well. We have a huge opportunity in terms of raw materials and economic potential that are still untapped," he said.
"As young people, you need to be more vigilant and know where opportunities are and we have institutions that will guide you there," he said.
"Our country has done a lot in terms of reforms, such as the ongoing drafting of Vision 2050 that largely focuses on human capacity development to ensure that the youth are well prepared. Rwanda is also committed to export promotion and increasing productivity," he added.
Munyeshyaka added that the country was also putting in place soft infrastructure to become an ICT and logistics hub while promoting Made-in-Rwanda programme to improve productivity.
While the youth expressed fears of restrictions such as trade barriers and the presence of many regional blocs which may result in duplication, when there is a free movement, the former minister said, countries are obliged to remove all trade barriers.
"African countries will need to do a proper assessment to see what regional blocs to maintain and which ones to remove to avoid complications," he added.
Jean-Paul Kimonyo, an Advisor in the Office of the President, said it was important for the youth to know about AfCFTA, adding that it will largely be implemented by them.
"AfCFTA will be implemented by young people because it is here to stay," he said.
He said that Africa, however, has to address issues of trade barriers, respect rules and show political will and deal with foreign interference if it is to effectively implement AfCFTA.
According to Michael Shyaka Nyarwaya, PAM Rwanda Youth Commissioner, the youth were ready to contribute to the implementation of AfCFTA given the trust governments have in them.
"We believe we can contribute to the effective implementation of AfCTA, with the guidance of good leadership. We must work hard to ensure AfCFTA mission and objective are effectively implemented and achieved," he said.