African Free Trade Area holds an opportunity to boost Rwanda’s trade potential Area

The 5th EPRN Annual Research Conference
By : Bosco Kagaba and Jean-Claude Shingiro

Rwanda will trade easily with more African countries when the African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA) becomes a reality. This was said by Leonard Rugwabiza, Economic Advisor at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning(MINECOFIN) while officiating at the opening of the 5th EPRN Annual Economic Research Conference at Kigali Convention Center on March 12, 2019.

“Rwanda is a landlocked country and this is an opportunity for it to reach out to other economies in the region,” Mr. Rugwabiza said, referring to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement signed in Kigali in March 2018.

Mr. Rugwabiza further noted that for Rwanda to achieve its vision 2050, it will need to take full advantage of the opportunities that will be brought forward by the planned single African market.

Mr. Rugwabiza urged that the continental free trade area presents more opportunities than challenges but if the challenges are not strategically mitigated, they can derail the envisaged benefits to the continent.

Leonard Rugwabiza, Economic Advisor at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning(MINECOFIN)

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Andrew Mold, Acting Director at UNECA in Eastern Africa, said that the AfCFTA presents a historical opportunity for the African continent and it deserves full support of the researchers, development partners and policy makers to realize its potential.

Dr. Mold said : “We are looking into an open market, free movement of people, goods and services, protocols in the area of competition and government procurement, protection of intellectual property and because of its wide scope in nature, it will create an enormous demand for goods.”

Dr. Andrew Mold, Acting Director at UNECA

The UNDP Rwanda Resident Representative, Stephen Rodrigues said that the implementation of the continental free trade agreement needs to be done in a way that is inclusive and benefits vulnerable groups such as women, youth, persons living with disability and small and medium-size enterprises on the continent. “We should ensure that women and youth are included in implementing the AfCFTA. It is necessary to make policies that are inclusive and take into account people living with disability and those with low levels of education,” Mr. Rodrigues said.
Bodo Immink, GIZ Rwanda Country Director said that Rwanda stands to benefit from the AfCFTA through economic development, industrial development, job creation and more importantly, poverty reduction.

Stephen Rodrigues, UNDP Rwanda Resident Representative

While closing the conference, EPRN Board Chairperson and Chief Economist at the National Bank of Rwanda(BNR) Professor Thomas Kigabo acknowledged the support from the UNECA, GIZ and UNDP-Rwanda towards organizing the conference. He also congratulated the researchers and thanked the participants for their time to take part in the conference and to contribute ideas during the various sessions.

EPRN Board Chairperson and Chief Economist at the National Bank of Rwanda(BNR) Professor Thomas Kigabo

The conference, which brought together over 200 participants, was organized by the Economic Policy Research Network(EPRN) in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa(UNECA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-Rwanda) and the German Development Cooperation Agency(GIZ) under the theme” African Continental Free Trade Area : Opportunities and Challenges.”

After the Conference, a group photo was taken

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