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Developing a robust infrastructure is crucial to make the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) a success, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

“The success of the AfCFTA depends on Infrastructure development,” said Ramaphosa at the opening of the 33rd ordinary session of the assembly of the heads of state and government of the AU being held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

“We are going to drive the implementation of the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative, so that priority and high impact projects act as catalysts for the AfCFTA,” said Ramaphosa.

In addition to infrastructure development, streamlining regulatory framework can fulfill the promise of AfCFTA, Ramaphosa said.

“We have to level the playing field for African businesses, so they are able to operate in a large-scale market unfettered by regulatory fragmentation. This is an integral part of rebalancing global trade relations,” Ramaphosa told the AU gathering.

The South African President also pledged to promote the potential of AfCFTA during his one-year chairmanship of the AU, a boost to the continental free trade initiative.

Ramaphosa took over the one-year chairmanship of the AU from the Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday.

“Our collective work to ensure political and economic unity, good governance, and peace should be strengthened by supporting integration, industrialization, economic development, trade and investment,” said Ramaphosa.

“In pursuit of this priority, we will host the Extraordinary Summit of the AfCFTA to be held back-to-back with the Extraordinary Summit on the silencing of the Guns in May 2020,” said Ramaphosa.

The South African President further said AfCFTA has the potential to reignite industrialization and pave the way for Africa’s integration into the global economy as a significant player.

“The AfCFTA that we adopted last year will enable us to work together through intra-Africa trade, as it will reignite industrialization and pave the way for Africa’s integration into the global economy as a player of considerable scale” said Ramaphosa.

In March 2018, African countries signed an agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda.

The AfCFTA, being one of the biggest trade agreements in recent years in the world, aims to create a single market among the countries in the African continent.

According to the AU, the AfCFTA will bring together African countries with a combined population of more than 1 billion people and a combined GDP of more than 3.4 trillion U.S. dollars. Enditem

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