The African Leadership magazine has recently announced that the 2019 edition of The Africa Summit, the magazine’s prominent summit that holds annually in London, will primarily focus on issues relating to the implementation and realization of the benefits of intra-Africa trade and regional integration. This edition, which is the third in a row, is scheduled to hold on Friday, July 26th, 2019, with the theme- Intra-Africa Trade: Beyond Rhetoric and Political Commitments.

“…in light of the recent ratification made by the Gambian parliament which has set in motion the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) later in the year, this year’s edition of The Africa Summit in London is an important and a timely contribution to the on-going debate on the benefits of intra-regional trade and the implementation of AfCFTA and its complementary RTAs (Regional Trade Agreements)”, said Dr. Ken Giami, Publisher of the African Leadership magazine, organizers of the Summit, in a brief chat with the press on Friday.

African leaders in an Extraordinary Summit in Rwanda in 2018 adopted the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), a landmark agreement that exceeds that of a traditional free trade area as it brings together all 55 African Union member states, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion, with a commitment to removing tariffs on 90 percent of goods, progressively liberalizing trade in services, and addressing a host of other non-tariff barriers. The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) estimates that AfCFTA has the potential to boost intra-Africa trade by 52.3 percent by 2020.

It is also instructive to note that experts and key stakeholders have also raised concerns that threaten the implementation and realization of the benefits of AfCFTA and other complementary initiatives in the continent. Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary-General of UN, have noted that the agreement may also pose challenges for governments in promoting competition in local markets as some local companies that are taking advantage of economies of scale may grow faster than others and capture dominant positions in markets.

“If African countries want to significantly increase intra-African trade, they must address practical issues such as streamlining regulations, improving access to finance by the private sector, infrastructure networks and simplification of customs processes”, according to Louise Mushikiwabo, chairperson of the AU Executive Council and Rwandan foreign minister.

The organizers of the summit have therefore noted that the core objectives of the African Summit – London 2019 is to bring together Think-Tanks, Experts, Academics, Researchers and Research scholars, Business and Political Leaders, in a series of high-level panel, plenary and keynote presentations for renewed discussions and sustainable engagement to exchange experiences, evidence-based researches and practical approaches to boost and address emerging issues and challenges that will confront the full implementation of the trade agreement.

The Africa Summit is a premier and annual event of the African Leadership magazine, since 2017, that brings together Business and Political Leaders as well as Key Stakeholders under one roof to connect with one another, celebrate innovation, entrepreneurship and development in the continent, and explore diverse thoughts and perspectives on issues relations to the social, economic and environmental sustainability of Africa. While previous editions of the summit have attracted over 250 leaders from across Africa, United States and the United Kingdom, the 2019 edition promises to be even bigger with the theme – Intra-Africa Trade: Beyond Rhetoric and Political Commitments

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Ehis Ayere

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