Gaborone — Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Mr Mmusi Kgafela has pleaded with the SADC-Parliamentary Forum to advocate for inclusion of African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) in national laws, national development plans and all other pieces of legislation existing in the member states..
Making submissions during the 49th plenary assembly session of the SADC-PF, Minister Kgafela said such a move would assist in building the requisite capacity for parliaments and relevant parliamentary committees to utilise their law-making and oversight mandate in ensuring effective implementation of the AfCFTA and build a more inclusive and equitable SADC region, post COVID-19.
He said as the apex parliamentary body in the SADC region, SADC-PF had a critical role to play in ensuring a coordinated and collaborative approach by African Parliaments, emphasising the need for the parliamentary forum to strive for awareness creation and amplifying of citizens' voices in the AfCTA processes.
In an endeavour to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship within SADC, the minister said member states had developed and adopted the SADC Industrialisation Strategy, which would go a long way in enhancing the benefits of the AfCFTA agreement.
The strategy, he said, was aimed at market integration, industrialisation, enhancement of productivity as well as improvement of competitiveness and innovation.
As such, he said the SADC Parliamentary Forum should advocate for alignment of the SADC member states Industrialisation Strategy.
Minister Kgafela was also delighted that a number of Regional Economic Communities had adopted regional industrialisation strategies, though with varying degrees of success.
However, Mr Kgafela noted that while there was good progress made in the AfCFTA negotiations, the impact of the AfCFTA would depend not only on what was agreed in the negotiations, but also on whether African countries had domesticated, implemented and complied with the provisions of the AfCFTA agreement.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic had heightened the importance of the success of the AfCFTA by exposing the vulnerability of African countries' dependence on importation of critical items such as food, Personal Protective Equipment, medicines, fuel, machinery and other manufactured goods.
Such exposure, he said, highlighted the susceptibility of many countries to disasters and exogenous shocks.
"The disruption of global supply chains has reinforced the necessity for closer integration among us to boost our mutual self-sufficiency, strengthen our economies, improve our industrial capacity and reduce our dependence on sources outside Africa," he said.
He, thus, called on SADC countries to review and make strategic reforms to improve the ease of doing business, which would cultivate a competitive business environment for the growth of local businesses and attract Foreign Direct Investment.
He said the continued pursuit of the ease of doing business reforms across the SADC region and the continent at large would go a long way in facilitating growth of the private sector in the region.
Source : BOPA