Ahead of the forthcoming 9th Tana Forum scheduled for October 19 – 24, the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS), Tuesday hosted a joint virtual multi-stakeholders forum on the topic: “The AfCFTA and Private Sector: Unlocking potentials beyond the Pandemic.”
The meeting, which was jointly organized with the Mission of Japan to the African Union, was part of preparation for the upcoming 2020 Tana High-Level Forum on Security in Africa, which will be held virtually for the first time, on the theme: ‘The AfCFTA: Revitalizing Pan Africanism for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa.’
The Tana Forum is an annual gathering of African leaders that explores African-led security solutions. As Africa’s foremost peace and security convening, the Forum is anchored on the premise, “frank, relevant and candid dialogue is fundamental to resolving conflict and transforming societies.” Thus, delegates at the annual assembling include heads of state, leaders of international and regional institutions, representatives of civil society organizations and the private sector, as well as academics and socially engaged youths.
While giving the welcoming address at the pre-forum event, Dr. Yonas Adaye, director of the Addis Ababa University-affiliated Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) – mandated with the task of finding African-led solutions to peace and security challenges in Africa – described the AfCFTA Agreement as a testament to the true spirit of Pan-Africanism.
“This extraordinary accomplishment is indebted a great deal to the commitment of many experts and officials in the African Union, its partners and Member States. The work must not be left alone to the stakeholders only, instead everyone must take up responsibility; the IPSS which organizes the Tana forum offers a platform for panel discussions, interactions and bilateral talks, to share views and experiences in a time efficient, result-oriented and open manner,” said Dr Adaye.
While officially opening the pre-forum session, Mr Ahmed Shidie, representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia noted that the AfCFTA Agreement represented a new trade era on the continent. “It is an exceptional illustration of harmony among all African states on the perception that the continent’s development chiefly depends on the development of trade between African countries.”
Shidie thus described the private sector as major stakeholders for economic growth in Africa, since they account for 80 percent of the continent’s total production capacity, two thirds of its investment, and employs 90 percent of its working age population. “There can be no AfCFTA without the full participation of private-sector actors, Member States must vigorously work with the private sector, give them space to share their thoughts and on-ground experiences to ensure maximum implementation of the AfCFTA,” he noted.
The pre-tana forum multi-stakeholders dialogue seeks to complement current and ongoing initiatives aimed at the successful implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement scheduled to commence January 1, 2021. It was meant to pave way for the effective involvement of the private sector especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the implementation of the AfCFTA. The pre-forum also explored the challenges and opportunities the AfCFTA avails to Africa’s private sector in the context of peace and security.
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