President of Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwunmi Adesina Tuesday declared that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), would emerge as the world’s largest free trade area, consolidating an integrated market of 1.3 billion consumers with combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of about $3.4 trillion.
Adesina who stated this at the ongoing “54th Annual Meetings’’ of the bank in Malabo, Equitorial Guinea, estimates that Africa’s GDP growth can reach about six per cent a year in a continent without borders. He argued that with the agreement on AFCFTA in March 2018, which is now at the threshhold of inauguration in July, regional integration has gained momentum.
“If we get our integration right, Africa will be more competitive, be able to create a massive amount of jobs and more importantly, develop in dignity and confidence,’’ Adesina said. The AfDB boss added that the bank had also invested about one $1billion through various initiatives, including cross border infrastructure to move trade across African borders.
He said most of the funds had gone to small and medium enterprises, the engine of economic growth. He said that Equatorial Guinea was selected to host the bank’s Annual Meetings because of its economic potential and because Africa could benefit a great deal from regional integration.
According to him, we believe that the potential is immense, but the level of integration is not enough. Regional integration is one of the bank’s High 5s and is seen as pivotal to boosting Africa’s economic development. Also speaking, Cesar Mba-Abogo, Equatorial Guinea Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said his country had made significant effort on the economic and infrastructure front to connect markets in Central Africa.