World Bank Chief Economist says non-tariff barriers remain threat to the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement

The Chief Economist of the World Bank for Africa, Dr Albert Zeufack has disclosed that although the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is aimed at shooting the growth on the continent, a major challenge that will threaten the agreement is non-tariff barriers which include the infrastructural gap in the continent.

Chief Economist of the World Bank for Africa, Dr Albert Zeufack

The African Development Bank estimates that Africa’s infrastructure needs are between $130 and $170 billion per year.

It, however, adds that financing for this falls short by $68billion and $108billion per year.

It is due to the statistics that Dr Zeufack is advising that even though the AfCFTA will do a lot to eliminate many tariffs to enhance trade, similar attention must be given to non-tariff barriers such as the infrastructural gap; or else the benefits cannot impact job creation on the continent.

He said this during a media interaction via video conferencing to launch the 20th edition of the Africa’s Pulse report.

“For the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement to translate into future growth and job creation, there are at least three things that need to be done. The first is to ensure that we integrate or create regional value chains. The African market itself is 1.2 billion people, and can clearly be a huge source of growth within the continent,” he said.

Adding that “The second is for regional value chains to emerge…we need to address the issues of non-tariff barriers. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement has so far really made great strides in reducing tariffs barriers. But there are non-tariff barriers; there are infrastructure constraints that will prevent our countries from really reaping the benefits of that agreement and therefore creating the jobs.”

He further stated that the third thing needed to be in place to drive growth in the services sector is for African governments to create systems which will enhance the free movement of people.

“Thirdly, the free movement of people is necessary for the agreement because that will drive growth in services. The service sector is one that will be creating a lot of jobs across Africa. But for that to happen, we need free movement of people,” he said.

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