Kenya and Rwanda are eyeing the West African market, with Ghana becoming the next partner for both countries under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Kenya’s President William Ruto handed over Kenyan tea to Ghana on Wednesday. He was dating AfCFTA General Secretary Wamkele Mene.
Last week, a US$77,000 shipment of Kenyan batteries was received in Tema Port, Ghana, in a historic ceremony marking Kenya’s first exports under the AfCFTA agreement.
“When we set out to consolidate the market in Africa and provide infrastructure using the AfCFTA statute, it looked like a dream, but today we are living that dream as a reality,” President Ruto said.
“Today’s event marks the first step in a journey that will free our continent from exporting raw materials to the rest of the world to exporting processed, manufactured products not only to our continent but to the rest of the world.”
And this week, Rwanda exported coffee products to Ghana under the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative.
Kenya is among six countries selected to participate in the pilot phase of the AfCFTA “Guided Trade” initiative. Others are Rwanda, Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt and Mauritius.
“What Kenya and Ghana are doing is giving commercial meaning to the whole project that we all stand for in the African Union, the project to integrate our market, our economy as a continent and one day make our continent globally competitive.” , said Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of AfCFTA.
“The display we have seen here in the box (ketepa) is value added production for Africa to trade in industrial products to create opportunities to lift millions out of poverty, for SME industrial products and for young people .”
Mr. Mene recalled that in 2015, the African continent exported $6 million worth of unprocessed tea and coffee, making huge losses because value added was not taken into account.
“The world market for coffee and tea is estimated at over 100 billion dollars. Processing and repackaging is done elsewhere outside of our continent and you can see the losses in the value chain. And so today is the start of reversing that trend that has continued for the past 60 years or so,” Mene said.
“Another example that worries me is that in 2019 our continent imported $6 billion worth of pharmaceutical products, but the components that go into making these pharmaceutical products that we import from the rest of the world, are made in Africa. You are here in Africa.”
He added: “Our capacity as a continent to industrialize and accelerate our opportunities in terms of global competitiveness, I believe begins today with this initiative. Cameroon, Tunisia, Egypt and Mauritius will follow on Friday, also trading in manufacturing.”
Outgoing Trade Minister Betty Maina said Kenya is watching other export markets in Africa.
“We have identified other markets in Mauritius, Egypt and Cameroon for products that we will be testing as part of this initiative,” Ms. Maina said.
“This pilot initiative of guided trade within the AfCFTA was preceded by preparations in our country. Our trade facilitation agencies such as the Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Bureau Standards and others have all come together and prepared the necessary documentation to support this initiative.”