The African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is a sign of new political reality in Africa that is likely to transform not only the continent but also its relations with the rest of the world, President Kagame has said.
The Head of State, who is also currently serving as the African Union chairperson, made the observation on Thursday while speaking at the launch of the New Africa Dialogue organised by the U.S-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
President Kagame expressed that the CFTA which was signed in March 2018 in Kigali will boost many aspects within African and the rest of the world.
“This is a historic step. It will transform trade within our continent, while requiring the world to relate to the fastest-growing continent, as a single bloc, for trade purposes. But this agreement should be understood in a wider context,” he said.
He explained that the trade agreement “heralds a new political reality in Africa” given that it was also followed by the signing of an agreement on the free movement of people within Africa.
The President emphasised that, much as the relationship between the United States and Africa should focus more on business and trade, the former should also continue its engagement with the continent on democratic values by putting into consideration African countries’ specific contexts.
He said that political structures in Africa are often evaluated against abstract notions of process, “almost on auto-pilot” without reference either to the objective outcomes, or to the views of the citizens directly concerned.
That has to change in the relations between the USA and Africa as both regions of the world have changed since the end of the cold war, Kagame said.
“When innovative forms of democratic stability are undermined, nobody’s interest is served. The tendency to elevate abstractions about democratic process, into a precondition for engagement, rather than a basis for discussion, is counterproductive,” he said.
He added: “Business and trade should rightly constitute, the day-to-day subject matter, of enhanced relations between Africa and the United States. But it would be a mistake to avoid frank exchanges about values.”
With both Africa and the USA going through changes over the last few decades, Kagame called for both African and American leaders to “rethink how Africa and the United States relate to one another”.
The launch of the New Africa Dialogue was also attended by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, CSIS Honorary Trustee Othman Benjelloun, former US Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger as well as leaders in the private and public sectors.
The Express News