Speaking during the closing session of the recent Experts Meeting to Finalize Zambia’s AfCFTA Strategy and Implementation Plan, Mr Paul Mumba, Chief Economist, Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, informed the meeting that the work on the AfCFTA, “does not end here, but starts now.” He then urged the participants to collectively own the strategy and share with their respective constituencies. He assured the meeting that sensitisation is continuous and called on every one to take a personal responsibility in raising awareness about the AfCFTA.
The Chief Economist said that the final draft of the AfCFTA Strategy will be submitted to the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry and then reviewed internally by senior management before submission to Cabinet. Once cleared, the Strategy will be officially launched by Ministry.
He further advised that, once the Strategy is approved, it is critical to undertake national sensitization and continued advocacy so that the Zambian stakeholders own the document.
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was represented by Oliver Maponga, Economic Affairs Officer who applauded the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry’s commitment to deliver a high quality document that speaks to the needs and aspirations of Zambian stakeholders.
He emphasised, the importance of MSMEs being part of the AfCFTA and benefit from the opportunities that the agreement presents. “ECA is hoping to learn from Zambia’s experience as we work with other regional member States in providing support towards the development of strategies on the AfCFTA”. He said.
He thanked the participants for their commitment to develop a comprehensive strategy. He informed the meeting that ECA is prepared to continue supporting the process and working in collaboration with the Zambian Government so that they ratify the AfCFTA agreement. He informed the meeting that ECA Southern Africa regional office will continue providing technical support to Zambia as one of the focus countries in the region.
The national consultation process and drafting of the national implementation strategy is part of a wider project aimed at deepening Africa’s Trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA. Financially supported by the European Union, ECA has been working with its partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and trade experts to develop national AfCFTA strategies.
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