Experts have called for the realization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and the enhancement of China-Africa cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to drive sustainable growth in Africa.
The calls were made during a presentation of research findings at a session on AfCFTA and industrialization in Africa, held at the sidelines of the 2023 African Economic Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference, themed “Imperatives for Sustainable Industrial Development in Africa,” brought together experts, the private sector, researchers, and young people.
The experts said that the AfCFTA, if fully implemented, would significantly boost African trade without exerting considerable pressure on climate change, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) said in a statement on Friday.
Simon Mavel, an economist at UNECA, presented a paper titled “Greening the AfCFTA,” showcasing that aligning with existing national determined contributions or establishing an African carbon market alongside AfCFTA reforms would notably reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“While there’s a trade-off between reducing greenhouse gas emissions and economic benefits, establishing an African carbon market effectively curbs emissions while preserving the expected economic gains from AfCFTA,” Mavel explained.
Regarding the China-proposed BRI, Abas Omar, a PhD candidate in Economics at the Research Institute of Economics and Management in China, said that the BRI serves as an alternative industrialization model for Africa. “The BRI accelerated China-Africa investment. The majority of funds are in energy and infrastructure. Combining BRI membership and the value of infrastructure contributions is an indicator of the BRI’s channel of impact on Africa’s industrialization.”
“The BRI significantly promoted Africa’s industry value addition; and while infrastructure alone is not effective for African industrialization, the BRI augments infrastructure to promote African industrialization,” he added.
Organized by the African Development Bank, UNECA and the UN Development Programme, the 18th edition of the conference convened diverse stakeholders to deliberate on the challenges and potential of industrialization in Africa.