<p>Lilongwe, Malawi-The African Union Southern Africa Regional Office (AU-SARO) in partnership with the Government of Malawi, UNECA-SRO-SA, and the AfCFTA Secretariat is organizing the AfCFTA Multi-Stakeholders High-level Conference which will be held on 10th and 11th February 2022 at the BICC in Lilongwe. The main objective of the Conference is to sensitize stakeholders in Malawi on the AfCFTA Agreement as well as to review Malawi’s preparedness and readiness to implement the Agreement. The Conference was officially opened by H.E Mark Katsonga Phiri, the newly appointed Minister of Trade and Industry.
In his opening remarks, the Minister stated that “Malawi is proud of her decision to sign and ratify the AfCFTA agreement” He further highlighted that this is not only because it is one of the founding members, but also because the country believes in the potential of AfCFTA as a catalyst for Africa's economic development and realization of the Malawi vision 2063 and the African Union Agenda 2063”. The AU Permanent Representative to Southern Africa Ambassador David Claude Pierre also stated that the AfCFTA will increase not only the ratio of industrial goods to extractive goods but will ease the process of importing raw materials from other African countries thus giving SME’s a better chance of succeeding. The continental free trade area is projected to Increase intra-continental exports by more than 81% percent, while exports to non-African countries will rise by 19 percent. The net effect of these increases will contribute to the lifting of an additional 30 million people out of extreme poverty and 68 million people out of moderate poverty. In addition Ms Eunice G.Kamwendo, Director of UNECA-SRO-SA mentioned “I am aware that the Malawi AfCFTA Strategy, which is a subcomponent of the National Export Strategy and National Trade Policy, will provide impetus for industrialization and development in line with aspiration of the Malawi Vision 2063 to transform Malawi into a wealthy and self-reliant industrialized upper-middle-income country by the year 2063, as well as regional development aspirations outlined in the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap, the COMESA Industrial Policy and related Trade Protocols”.
The AfCFTA is a flagship project of Agenda 2063 of the African Union, it aims at accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations. As of 10th February 2022, 41 of the 54 signatories have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA.
The AU-SARO is a representational office of AU in Southern Africa, it develops, maintain constructive and productive relationships between the AU, its Member States in the Region as well as SADC and COMESA. The office aims to Increase awareness about AU programmes and its mission in the region; monitor socio-economic and political and cultural developments as well as liaise and harmonize specific policies of the AU in the Southern Region.