PACCI Executive Council representatives and 18 non-member business association leaders gathered in Addis Ababa on March 20, 2023, to discuss how to enable SMEs benefit from the AfCFTA and to review PACCI’s performance and strategies for the year 2022.
In his opening speech Mr. Djamel Ghrib, African Union Commission Director of Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining said “AfCFTA is one of the 13 flagship projects to achieve 2063. The financial needs of the continent are estimated to USD432 Billion. AfCFTA presents an opportunity to develop the potential of its resources and youth wit
h the market expected to a grow to a GDP of USD15Trillion in 2063.”
The Council observed that Africa is struggling with persistently high levels of unemployment, informality, inequality, and poverty and all of which have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and now by the war in Ukraine. It stated that Africa is facing economic challenges which include uncompetitive business environment, a lack of diversification, a largely informal small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, and limited support for SMEs and entrepreneurs.
The Council noted the efforts made to date by the AfCFTA Secretariat in moving forward the AfCFTA agenda and used the occasion to renew the Chamber’s call for the acceleration of the AfCFTA implementation. It (the Council) insisted that chambers of commerce and other business associations need to push Africa’s policy makers to accelerate the practical impacts of the agreement which has remained rather minimal.
A representative from South Africa urged that African governments do more to put in place a facilitative regulatory framework for export. It is heartening to see, she said, our exporters struggle unnecessarily to get shipments through because of bureaucracies and excessive regulations.
In terms of recommendation, the Council requested PACCI to include in its 2022-2025 strategy a robust campaign for free movement of people and for efficient border security and processing. Recognizing that African chambers of commerce face various chal¬lenges and noting the need to realign the services they provide their members to remain effective advocates of businesses the Council recommended PACCI to mobilize local and international resources to transform African chambers of commerce to innovate in order to remain relevant in the face of new realities.