Africa’s potential is burgeoning with an abundant supply of natural resources and economically active youth. This profile makes the continent particularly suited to the prospects of an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which could make it the largest free trade zone in the world, lifting millions out of poverty.
The agreement will cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion. Entrepreneurs and businesses, including small and medium enterprises, will have an opportunity to work across Africa in a tariff-free environment. Inter-continental trade would also necessitate the improvement of infrastructure, which many African cities are still in dire need of.
While countries consider ratification and becoming signatories, this is an opportunity for the millions of unemployed graduates, underemployed youth and microentrepreneurs across Africa to consider their place in a Pan-African economy. Now is the time to build networks and consider the needs of the continent as it transitions to an open trade zone. There will be plentiful opportunities for job creation and poverty alleviation in Africa. The continent will need a generation that overcomes a history of power, greed and dependency, to drive it towards sustainability, innovation and inclusivity. Pay attention to the news, attend conferences, speak to lecturers, economists, researchers etc. and figure out your position in Pan-Africa. The developed world is looking for a place in this new economy, don’t let it be yours.