Photo 1 - SDT&ED PS Ambassador Johnson Weru addressing the meeting.
Photo 2 - The reviewed draft document is handed over to PS Weru by Ms Gladys Kinyua, a senior Trade Officer.
Photo 3 - Dr. Geoffrey Manyara of UNECA makes his remarks during the closing ceremony.
Plans are at an advanced stage to finalize Kenya’s African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) National Implementation Strategy that will enable it tap into the enormous economic opportunities provided by the (AfCFTA) Trade Deal that was operationalized at the start of this year.
The draft Implementation Strategy was subjected to a one-week technical review meeting that brought together Trade experts from Government, Development Partners, Academia and Non-State Actors to strategize on AfCFTA. The meeting reviewed, improved and proposed changes to the draft Strategy that was developed in 2019.
The Strategy is formulated to facilitate an expansion of Kenya’s trade and investment in Africa which would subsequently lead to increased economic growth and sustainable development. Kenya is keen to expand its supply capacity and increase its exports of goods and services across Africa, and other global markets in line with the broader Government's economic transformation policy to expand Kenya's export capacity, increase job and wealth creation opportunities for citizens and promote shared prosperity in line with the Kenya Vision 2030.
In line with this, the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development is developing delivery models and implementation strategies to implement such initiatives. The work that was done in this meeting is part of this national effort.
Kenya is one of the 36 countries that have ratified the Agreement, which provides an opportunity for Africa to create the world's largest Free Trade Area with the potential to unite more than 1.2 billion people in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.
The African Continental Free Trade Area is a flagship project of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The aim of this trade agreement is to boost intra-African trade among the 54 member states within the African Continent. The start of trading under the AfCFTA agreement kicked off on 1st January 2021. For Member States to exploit the potential benefits presented by this ambitious trade framework, the African Union Commission in partnership with UNECA is supporting Member States to develop AfCFTA Implementation Strategies at national and regional levels.
Kenya started the process of developing its National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy in November 2019 and the draft has since been subjected to public participation twice, with views of all stakeholders from both private and public sector consolidated into the current strategy. This is the document that was reviewed this week in Mombasa Meeting.
AfCFTA is an Agreement with a great potential to foster regional economic integration and economic growth, to take Africa to the next level, even in the midst of a crippling COVID 19 pandemic. In her remarks during the official closing of the experts’ review meeting in Mombasa last week, Dr. Mama Keita, the UNECA Director in Eastern Africa, said that implementation of the AfCFTA will lead to exponential growth in the manufacturing sector, export diversification and creation of quality jobs.
Ms. Katrin Hagemann, the Acting European Union Ambassador to Kenya in her statement noted that the continental trade holds great promise for Kenya to “diversify and amplify her international trade credentials”.
“The EU is thrilled about the continuous momentum in rolling out the AfCFTA after the start of the trading on 1st January 2021. This is a game changer that will further support Africa’s transformation” said Ms. Katrin
In addition to boosting production for local consumption and for continental markets, AfCFTA is also expected to improve Kenya’s food security, enhance her digital capabilities, help integrate Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) into regional value chains as well as facilitate free movement of Kenyan citizens around the continent, boosting employment to the country’s youth.
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) CEO Frank Matsaert in his remarks, observed that a well-implemented the AfCFTA deal would transform Kenya’s economy into an export led with a thriving domestic market as well as buttress the country’s position as an ICT hub and regional trade gateway.
“Having supported Kenya and the rest of the EAC Member States in their integration efforts, TMEA is committed to employ her expertise to support Kenya reap maximum advantage from AfCFTA. On a technical front a lot of the key issues towards making AfCFTA a success are, fortunately, the very issues we have been supporting the EAC region unlock over the last decade. These include improving transport efficiencies at the port, northern and central corridors, eradication of NTBs, reforming trade systems and policies, improving customs administration and fostering inclusive and sustainable trade” explained Frank.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) pledged to continue working closely with Kenya to support the country exploit her great trade potential.
Kenya’s PS for Trade and Enterprise Development Ambassador Johnson Weru stated in his address that the Implementation Strategy is aligned to the national development goals and objectives including The Big Four Agenda. “As a Government, our endeavor to negotiate for more markets should give impetus and motivation for our Industries and especially the majority MSME’s to double their efforts and drive the export agenda. This Strategy is therefore critical to the implementation of the AFCFTA which is opening a market of over 1.3 Billion Africans”, he stated.
The one-week meeting of experts was co-funded by Kenya’s Ministry for Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, European Union and Trademark East Africa.
The draft Implementation Strategy which comprises a separate Communications Plan and Implementation Work Plan, will now be subjected to a validation exercise with stakeholders before it is approved as a final document.