…as AfCFTA consultation descends on Southern Africa
By Hilary Mare
DEPUTY Prime Minister, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, has called on Namibian private businesses take advantage of the imminent African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) road show that aims to recruit the private sector into the overarching plans of the agreement.
The African Union has teamed up with the Afro-Champions Initiative in order to further sensitize and engage the private sector on the business opportunities that come with the African Continental Free Trade Area with these sensitisation campaigns soon to be carried out in Southern Africa.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area will remain a pipedream if the private sector is not at the fore front of this initiative. In this regard, I call upon the Namibian private sector to fully participate in these events (CFTA engagements with the private sector),” Nandi-Ndaitwah said last week, while briefing parliament on the conclusion of the 31st ordinary session of the African Union Assembly of heads of state and government.
In addition, the African Union has also established the African Continental Free Trade Area Business Forum as a regular platform for dialogue between the African private sector on one hand and African policymakers on the other with the added function of facilitating business to business networking.
Also, the first Intra-African Trade Fair, being organized by the African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim), in collaboration with the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the African Union Commission, will be held in Cairo in December 2018, to further promote intra-Africa trade.
“The Namibian private sector is encouraged to fully participate in this trade fair to showcase Namibian products. The trade fair will also be an opportunity for the Namibian Private Sector to engage other stakeholders on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area,” added Nandi-Ndaitwah.
“Namibia will remain firm in her belief for the unity and a fully integrated Africa. Issoufou Mahamadou, President of the Republic of Niger, who provided a progress report on the negotiations on the African Continental Free Trade Area as assigned leaders on the matter, has encouraged member States to speak with one voice and to engage external partners as one block, to ensure that Africa’s interests are adequately defended to give the continent more leverage in discussions.”
The African Union Assembly has approved the AU budget for 2019, amount i n g to US$681.5 million (over N$9 billion). The approved budget is in line with the continent’s move to reduce dependency on partner funding and gradually move towards funding 100 percent of the Union’s operational budget, 75 percent of the programme budget and 25 percent of peace support operations by 2021 with resources generated from the Continent.
“Namibia, in the person of the Minister of Finance, is a member of the Committee of 15 AU Finance Ministers that was established to provide an oversight role over the AU budget. The ministerial committee supported by a technical committee with the ambassadors in Addis Ababa, have been working closely together to carefully scrutinise the AU budget, which has started to improve the budgeting process as well as the financial management of the Union. AU budgeting process will continue to take into account the revenues and expenditure capacities of the AU commission and organs, with budget ceilings and clear programmes to ensure a realistic budgets. Namibia will continue to support the work of the committee of ministers to guarantee the highest standards of accountability and judicious utilization of our resources,” Nandi-Ndaitwah further explained.
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