The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and Equity Group Holdings have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to deepen the economic integration of the African continent.
The partnership, signed at the margins of the 41st Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union taking place in Lusaka, Zambia, seeks to implement the AfCFTA Agreement and the AfCFTA Private Sector Strategy through the Africa Recovery and Resilience Plan. The plan focuses on the acceleration of economic recovery and resilience in Africa, in a post-COVID 19 environment.
A statement from the AfCFTA Secretariat indicated that both institutions will work on the private sector economic recovery and resilience stimulus plan, which Equity has seeded with a US$6 billion fund.
It will focus on the primary sectors of food and agriculture, extractives, manufacturing and logistics, trade and investments, social impact, health, and environmental investments, as well as a technology-enabled economy to accelerate economic recovery and resilience of the African continent.
The partnership will, among others, support the creation of 50 million jobs by 2025 and 5 million SMEs will receive loans to scale and grow, utilising tools of the AfCFTA Agreement.
“It will create additional private sector lending with an envisaged loan book to be directed to agriculture (30%), manufacturing (15%), MSMEs (65%). As the continent’s technical interface with Africa’s development stakeholders and development partners for realisation of accelerated regional integration, the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD) will collaborate with the institutions through various means, including project financing, trade enhancement, and fund mobilisation,” it said.
During the signing, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, was quoted saying that the “AfCFTA will ensure the continent is well positioned to overcome crises such as COVID-19 leveraging on the framework of the AfCFTA Agreement.”
“Our partnership with the Equity Group is a valuable intervention for the African Continent, whereby we acknowledge that trade is going to enable our continent to accelerate economic recovery. With AUDA-NEPAD, we will also be able to deliver on our respective mandates through the complementarity of our expertise, skills, purpose, and vision, by taking special consideration of the interests of micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprises, women-owned businesses, workers, and youth,” he added.
Portions of the statement also quoted Dr. James Mwangi, Equity Group Holdings MD and CEO saying, “the AfCFTA Secretariat is a significant moment for recovery and resilience of the African continent and the creation of wealth for our people. The growth opportunities which the AfCFTA Agreement affords SMEs are unparalleled in history, making trade and cross-border scaling a possibility for all eligible and interested businesses.”
“Equity Group Foundation provides opportunities to transform lives and livelihoods and capacity building along six pillars which include Education and Leadership Development, Health, Food and Agriculture, Energy and the Environment, Financial Inclusion and Enterprise Development, and Social Protections which serve to leave no one behind in the recovery and resilience of the African continent,” he added.
The initiative is designed to showcase a framework for socio-economic transformation for the people of the African continent based on 6 integrated pillars aimed at catalysing a natural resources-led transformation of Africa, enhancing agriculture output, formalising extractive value chains, and connecting these primary sectors to global supply chains that are broken and require diversification and secured sourcing.