THE African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and Equity Group Holdings have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to deepen the economic integration of the African continent. The two organizations inked the MoU at the margins of the 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union taking place in Lusaka today. The partnership seeks to implement the AfCFTA Agreement and the AfCFTA Private Sector Strategy through the ‘Africa Recovery and Resilience Plan’, which focuses on acceleration of economic recovery and resilience in Africa, in a post Covid- 19 environment. The initiative is designed to showcase a framework for socioeconomic transformation for the people of the African continent based on six integrated pillars aimed at catalysing a natural resources-led transformation of Africa, enhancing agriculture output, formalising extractive value chains, and connecting these primary sectors to global supply chains that are broken and require diversification and secured sourcing.
The two institutions will work on the private sector economic recovery and resilience stimulus plan, which Equity has provided a US$6 billion fund focusing on food and agriculture, extractives, manufacturing, and logistics sectors. Others are trade and investments, social impact, health, and environmental investments, as well as a technology enabled economy to accelerate economic recovery and resilience of the African continent. The partnership will among others, support the creation of 50 million jobs by 2025 and 5 million SMEs will receive loans to scale and grow, utilising tools of the AfCFTA. The agreement would create additional private sector lending with an envisaged loan book to be directed to agriculture at around 30 percent, manufacturing at 15 percent, MSMEs will get a share of 65 percent respectively. “As the continent’s technical interface with Africa’s development stakeholders and development partners for realisation of accelerated regional integration, the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) will collaborate with the institutions through various means, including project financing, trade enhancement and fund mobilisation,” the statement says. During the signing of the MoU, AfCFTA Secretary General Wamkele Mene notes that the AfCFTA will ensure the continent is well positioned to overcome crises such as Covid-19 leveraging on the framework of the AfCFTA Agreement. “Our partnership with the Equity Group is a valuable intervention for the African Continent, whereby we acknowledge that trade is going to enable our continent to accelerate economic recovery,” he says. With AUDA-NEPAD, the two institutions will be able to deliver on their respective mandates through the complementarity of their expertise, skills, purpose, and vision.
MSMEs THE GREATEST WINNERS
This will be done by taking special consideration of the interests of micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprises, women-owned businesses, workers, and youth. Equity Group Holdings chief executive officer James Mwangi says; “Today’s signing with the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat is a significant moment for recovery and resilience of the African continent and for the creation of wealth for our people”. Equity Group Foundation provides opportunities to transform lives and livelihoods and capacity building along six pillars which include Education and Leadership Development. In addition the group help in, Health, Food and Agriculture, Energy and the Environment, Financial Inclusion and Enterprise Development, and Social protection which serve to leave no one behind in the recovery and resilience of the African continent.