By Fetra Rakotondrasoava
Translated by Joe Flynn
54 out of 55 African countries under a single free trade area, Africa will be the largest market in the World from July 2020. Indeed, the largest free trade zone concluded between African countries is entering its operationalization phase, at the African Union Summit, held in Niamey, Niger on July, 7th 2019. This zone will include the Tripartite Free Trade Area, which includes the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), with the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Arab Maghreb Union and the community of Sahelo-Saharan States. It will bring more than 1.2 billion people, for a combined GDP of 2.5 trillion US dollars. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) should increase the level of intra-African trade by more than 52%, once fully operational and by 2022. The AfCFTA promotes a single market of goods and services, a free movement of businessmen and investors, and thus paving the way for the creation of an African Customs Union.
Furthermore, according to ‘World Populations prospects’, by the end of this century, one-third of the world’s population and a large fraction of its youth will be African. Populations in Africa are growing up. Consumers as well continue to grow up. In that sense, it is essential for companies to be in Africa. In fact, those who are implanted in Africa will be in a good position, since they know the market in Africa, the connections and the distribution channels. They could beat their rivals, who failed to invest in Africa before them. At the same time, as the large segment of the African population will be young, workforces will also experience a considerable increase. If most regions and many developed countries face problems of declining its labor force, Africa will experience an increase.
Additionally, compared to other regions, Africa remains a natural resource reservoir. A large quantity of gem such as diamonds; chemical elements like cobalt, uranium, nickel-copper, bauxite; gold, silver or iron; petroleum; cocoa beans, sugar, salt, woods and also a lot of tropical fruits are founded in Africa. African territorial sea as well contains a large amount of fish resources. Regarding oil production, Angola, Algeria, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Libya, Nigeria, and Tunisia are now the oil-producing country in Africa. 80% of the continent’s production comes from Nigeria, Libya, Algeria, Egypt, and Angola. If Mozambique and Tanzania are now considered as potential oil producers, exploration is still taking place in Madagascar, South Africa, Sudan, Namibia, and Chad.
The future is in Africa. However, that future has to be secured in a sustainable way for the next generation and for the future of humanity.