African countries should promote sustainable land governance in the acceleration of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a senior United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) official has said.
Stephen Karingi, director of the UNECA Regional Integration and Trade Division, said the AfCFTA, if fully implemented, will boost intra-African trade by around 34.6 percent in 2045, which is equivalent to a gain of 204.3 billion U.S. dollars.
Karingi made the remarks during a panel discussion session on the sidelines of the fifth edition of the Conference on Land Policy in Africa, which started on Nov. 21 and will last through Nov. 24 at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.
The UNECA, in a statement released Thursday, said that successes related to the AfCFTA will bring substantial benefits to agri-food, services, industry, energy and mining sectors.
“Issues of land play an important part in this equation, because manufacturing and value addition will require raw materials to be produced on land; investments in value-added sectors will also need access to land,” Karingi told a panel session on land governance, regional integration and intra-Africa trade.
In March 2023, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) signed a framework agreement with Zambia and technical partners, including the UNECA and the African Export-Import Bank, to develop a transboundary special economic zone for batteries and electric vehicles and related services.
The UNECA said such new-generation special economic zones constitute one of several innovative ways to address the policy and infrastructure bottlenecks hampering opportunities for world-class investment in strategic and green mineral-led industrialization.
“Without land resources, we cannot optimize the AfCFTA,” Karingi said. “Success will require harmonizing land laws across boundaries.”