ZLECAf: 11 countries validate their agreement



By Temitope Ponle

Eleven African countries have validated the strategies for implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)agreement, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Ms Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of ECA, said this in her opening statement at the 39th session of the Committee of Experts on Wednesday.

The expert meeting was also on the sidelines of the 53rd session of the committee.

Songwe listed countries like Mauritania, Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Niger, Cameroon, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The executive secretary further said that the countries which were in the drafting phase of the agreement were Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo, Kenya, Namibia and Malawi.

She added that the early stage countries were Nigeria, Tunisia, Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Tanzania, Botswana, Mozambique and Eswatini.

She said data was not available for other countries.

The AfCFTA entered into force on January 1. As of February, 54 of the 55 African Union member states had signed.

Additionally, the ECA chief said 25 countries have joined the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) with potential savings equal to 0.71 percent of 2019 gross domestic product (GDP).

According to the World Bank, the DSSI is an initiative by the bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urging the Group of 20 (G20) to help countries focus their resources on combating the COVID-19 pandemic and safeguarding people’s lives and livelihoods.

The initiative went into effect on May 1, 2020 and has provided approximately $ 5 billion in relief to more than 40 eligible countries.

In his remarks, Amb. Tesfaye Sabo, Permanent Representative of Ethiopia to the African Union and ECA, said Africa has made a vigorous effort under the leadership of the African Union, to combat this pandemic and reduce its impact. socioeconomic.

Sabo said this was done by working with global partners and through mobilizing the African people.

“These efforts have produced commendable results,” he added.

The permanent representative said the conference was timely and crucial for understanding the complex socio-economic implications of the pandemic and for charting the way forward. (NOPE)

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