Nairobi — Experts attending the technical review of the draft Kenya AfCFTA implementation strategy held lively discussions about how the country could best benefit from the agreement.
The two day-meeting was jointly organized in Nairobi by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Kenya State Department for Trade.
It was attended by 60 experts, including government officials, trade economists, university lecturers, development partners and youth and women's representatives.
ECA estimates large gains for Eastern Africa, including an increase in intra-African exports by over US$ 1 billion and the creation of over 2 million new jobs. Kenya is well placed to take advantage of the new opportunities, the meeting concluded.
Gladys Kinyuah, the Deputy Director for International Trade at the Kenya Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives said the government is already taking the steps towards implementing the agreement and was taking into consideration the concerns and recommendations of all concerned stakeholders.
Kinyuah also explained that if Kenya is to maximise its benefits from the agreement, greater attention must be geared towards improving the competitiveness of service sectors such as transport, ICT, tourism, finance and business services. She finished her remarks by expressing the Ministry's appreciation to ECA for helping the country to develop the AfCFTA implementation strategy.
Linda Chepkwony, President of Kenya's Youth in Trade and Business said that Kenya's AfCFTA implementation strategy should be inclusive and chart a path for the empowerment of all, including youth, women and persons with disabilities.
"The economic and financial inclusion of everybody is necessary. Youth, women and persons with disabilities should be at the forefront to drive AfCFTA implementation," said Chepkwon.
Many of the participants also stressed the importance of working hand-in-hand with media houses, and utilize social media, television and radio, as ways of raising awareness and understanding about the AfCFTA across the country.
Andrew Mold, Head of Regional Integration and AfCFTA Cluster in Eastern Africa, reminded participants that the agreement will not only boost Kenya's trade with other African trading partners, but will also improve the prospects for structural diversification by increasing the demand for manufactured goods exports. Nonetheless, he also stressed that Kenya is well placed to take advantage of service trade liberalization under the AfCFTA, particularly in areas like financial services, ICT, and tourism.
To date, 54 Member States have signed the AfCFTA and 29 have ratified it. The main objective of the agreement is to create a single continental market for goods and services, including the free movement of persons and investments. It will eventually lay the foundations for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union.