__A #GameChanger for Africa.
The release of Nelson Mandela from prison was one of those “Where were you on that day?” moments in history. If you were an African, and old enough to understand its full implication, you are probably able to give an account of yourself, even today. Me, I just watched on TV with total awe, and with my entire family we all cried like babies, hugging each other.
There are also other moments, equally important and profound in the progress of human history, which happen without people fully realizing their significance, sometimes for decades, or even centuries. For instance, two bicycle makers called the Wright Brothers tried for years to get their little winged vehicles to fly across fields and cow pastures. In the arc of history, the invention of those two pioneering engineers impacted the world far more than who was President of the United States at the time!
For those of us who care deeply about the development of the African continent and its capacity to create prosperity and jobs, especially for our young generations now and in the future, the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 21 March was a really big deal.
__It may not yet be drawing the attention of people going about their daily lives, but believe you me, if it is executed properly, it will affect all of us.
We have begun (as Africans) to put in place the building blocks of what will become the world’s biggest single market within 100 years. Today it is nearly $3Tn and 1,2bn people. It will be over $100Tn by the turn of the century, with over 4bn consumers.
You want respect? You will not have to ask for it!
Speaking to you as a serious African entrepreneur, a unique door has been opened. You will not have to struggle as some of us have over the decades, to develop huge companies that will expand quickly across our continent.
If the AfCFTA is executed as envisioned, what will be the benefits for you, your children and future generations for decades to come?
# More and better job opportunities
# More cross-border trade with less red tape (such as at customs and ports)
# Better food security (through lower barriers to trade across the continent)
# More efficient regional supply chains (promoting investment, growth, and creation of jobs)
# Better prices and a wider variety of goods and services (from economies of scale)
# More independence (from aid and external borrowing), innovation, protection of intellectual property… the list goes on.
Prepare to see some really big African companies from every corner of the continent, including some of the smallest countries. And when you see them, say to your kids, “This is what our brothers and sisters launched that day… I was there!”
And then shall it be fulfilled that the “last have become first.”
There is still a lot of work to be done, and many sacrifices, and we will have to make profound changes to the way we conduct our economic and political affairs. We will have to uproot corruption, tribalism, regionalism, and racism from the shores of our continent.
Don’t be a “Monday morning midfielder,” but learn to play the game itself! Countless generations before us paid the ultimate price yet prosperity was never within reach. Now is our time.
As one great African said: “Yes, we can!”
Let us each of us not fail to do our own part. Of the 44 signatory countries, at least 22 must ratify in the next six months.
God bless you. God bless Africa!