Gaborone — The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), officially launched last year, will become operational in July this year, President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi has said.
Updating the media in Gaborone on February 11 following his attendance of the 33rd African Union annual summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President Masisi said AfCFTA would present new trade opportunities for the country.
He said the anticipated opening up of a broader continental market, was an occasion for the continent's nation states, including Botswana, to trade with others and boost their economic growth.
"As agreed, trading under the AfCFTA should start on July 1 this year and this will comprise trade in both goods and services," Dr Masisi said.
President Masisi revealed that Mr Wamkele Mene of South Africa had been appointed the first AfCFTA secretary general.
He said since government had prioritised economic transformation, the opening up of the continental market presented a fresh opportunity for innovative ideas as well as using Botswana's human capital and natural resources for extensive trade in Africa.
Dr Masisi said he had initial discussions with President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, about the possibility of the two countries partnering in the cattle industry specifically trading in bull semen.
He said domestic entrepreneurs could latch on such a partnership.
The President said a high level African Development Bank (ADB) delegation was due to visit the country in April following his meeting with the bank's president, Mr Akinwumi Adesina.
On this year's AU theme, "Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development," President Masisi said since Botswana was instrumental in developing it, it had become imperative to underline the importance of peace to effective trade and development on the continent.
"Although Botswana is not a country at war, we however are concerned about the impact of conflict in parts of the continent on trade and socio-economic development; as a people for our fellow people. As I highlighted in my maiden speech which I made at this summit, in the absence of peace and security, our aspirations will continue to remain a figment of our imagination," Dr Masisi said.
The President also pointed out that Botswana was now an active participant in the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) which he said would be used to gauge progress and continuously improve good governance and democracy.
Botswana, he said, was currently following due process required of all state parties before a full review could be undertake.
Source : BOPA