The African Development Bank (AfDB) has said it would incorporate the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) into its country and regional integration strategies.
A statement from the AfDB on Saturday, quoted the its president, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, as saying this while receiving the AfCFTA Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene, in Abidjan, on Tuesday.
Adesina said the implementation of the free trade area agreement would become a key component of the bank’s lending program.
“We want to have a critical mass of AfCFTA-aligned investments”, he added.
The AfDB president further said that the bank would support the AfCTA Secretariat in implementing its various trade and industrial workstreams.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that the African Continental Free Trade Area is an industrial hub. The zone should become an area for manufacturing, not merely for trading,” he stressed.
He said the bank would work closely with the AfCTA Secretariat to ensure that Africa produces at scale. “We require a large industrial manufacturing zone that generates income and competes on a local and global scale.”
Adesina also assured of the bank’s continued support for the continental initiative, including providing it institutional support, particularly in the areas of industrialisation, finance, infrastructure, and logistics.
According to the statement, the bank and the secretariat are to put together an Africa industrialisation forum for more directed bank support, because “we want to ensure that industries emerge in a more structured manner in Africa.”
The AfCFTA secretary-general said the secretariat would help member states remove trade barriers to boost intra-African trade.
“But, we cannot do so without the support of the African Development Bank. We would just be a trading hub with no real output.”
Mene also said that the AfCFTA provided Africa with a great opportunity to develop the necessary infrastructure to support trade and benefit small and medium enterprises.
He, however, sought the bank’s continuous support. “We want the initiative to run as an African initiative supported by our heads of state and our development finance institutions.”
Both leaders agreed to draft a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen their relationship and facilitate effective collaboration.