African leaders seem unfazed by the ideological conflict between the proponents of globalization and those in favor of protectionism. This is evidenced by the final signing and take off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, a major milestone in the push towards regional integration.
What does this really mean, and does it call for celebration? The regional market has a population of 1.2 billion people and an aggregate GDP of $2.5trn. The reduction of tariff and trade barriers is indeed a cause for cautious optimism.
Improving intra-regional trade has become an economic imperative. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Africa’s intra-continental trade accounts for a mere 17% of exports compared to 67% in Europe, 58% in Asia and 20% in North America. The planned introduction of a single currency (ECO) for West Africa would help lower transaction costs and facilitate payments with the aim of strengthening economic integration.
In early June, the Ugandan Ministry of Health once again confirmed a case of Ebola in Uganda, the third outside an ongoing outbreak in the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo that began in 2018. The spillover of the outbreak could prompt the World Health Organization to declare a global health threat, which can have severe implications for trade and travel.
For many African countries, sporting tournaments provide an escape from enduring political, economic and social problems. The 2019 Total African Cup of Nations is showcasing the best of what the continent has to offer and is already proving to be an enjoyable tournament. The decision to move the tournament to the summer (June 23-July 19) with no competing club interest has increased media coverage and provided a captive global audience.
This edition of the FDC Afriscope promises to be an eye opener on developments in Africa.
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