Kingsley Moghalu, Chairman, Board of Directors and Advisory Board, Africa Private Sector Summit has reiterated importance of Private Sector Bill of Rights (PSBoR) to open Africa for business and fight against poverty.
Moghalu in a statement made available in Lagos, spoke at the AfCFTA Joint Private Sector Session 2023 Afreximbank Intra-African Trade Fair, Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday.
According to him, PSBoR must be adopted as companion instrument to the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in order to create Africa everyone wants.
Moghalu said: “Trade, business and economies in general cannot grow sustainably, create wealth and lift millions from poverty without strong, predictable enabling business environments.
“This is the value proposition of the Africa Private Sector Summit’s proposed Charter on the Private Sector Bill of Rights (PSBoR).
“As I hope that I have demonstrated, the PSBoR is an indispensable complement to Africa’s Regional Economic Communities and the potentially transformative AfCFTA Treaty.
“The Private Sector Bill of Rights, when adopted, will provide many practical benefits to varied stakeholders including governments, stock exchanges, African businesses, development partners, and the continental and global publics.”
He said that thriving businesses would pay taxes to the government and increasing revenues, adding that a thriving private sector generates listings and sustainability of capital markets.
“Productive economies with skilled, well educated labour forces will position Africa to join the 4th Industrial Revolution.
“The complementarity of the Private Sector Bill of Rights to the RECS and the AfCFTA equals an Africa that is truly open for business,” Moghalu said.
Describing RECs and AfCFTA – regional trade as the path to prosperity, Moghalu, a former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), said that decades ago, Africa’s political leaders recognised, with foresight, that regional integration and trade are a powerful path to achieving prosperity.
He recounted that the African leaders established eight RECs that became the regional building blocks of the African Union and, ultimately, the AfCFTA.
He stressed that AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, with the main purpose of progressively reducing the steep tariff barriers and trade costs that have for decades prevented the growth of trade and prosperity within the continent.
According to him, trading across borders under the terms of the AfCFTA began on Jan. 1, 2021 and as of August 2023, 47 out of 54 African countries have ratified the treaty.
He said that when fully implemented, the AfCFTA would boost intra-African trade by 52 per cent, lift 30 million people out of poverty, and increase the continent’s GDP by USD 450 billion by 2035.
Highlighting roles of private sector and government, Moghalu said that the continental targets simply could not be achieved without the private sector.
He said that while governments had signed and ratified the AfCFTA, it was companies and business enterprises that trade across Africa, far more than governments.
“This means that the African private sector must be strengthened to leverage the provisions and protocols of the AfCFTA to expand intra-African trade to create prosperity,” Moghalu said.
Speaking further on the African Private Sector Summit (APSS) and the Private Sector Bill of Rights, Moghalu stressed the need to leverage the private sector’s ability to drive trade and investment in our continent.
According to him, to help achieve an enabling environment for business in the continent, APSS is engaging with African governments and other relevant parties for the adoption by all African countries of a Charter on the Private Sector Bill of Rights (PSBoR) for an enabling Blbusiness environment.
Moghalu added: “The Private Sector Bill of Rights contains 24 specific rights.
“These rights include the rights to easy establishment of businesses, a conducive legal framework for business, infrastructure, peace and security, and consultative relationships between governments and businesses in the making of regulations that govern or affect business.
“The adoption of the Private Sector Bill of Rights will fast-track the actualisation of the key Framework Protocols of the AfCFTA.”
According to him, the APSS’s goal is to have the Charter on the Private Sector Bill of Rights adopted by at least 22 African countries, but preferably all countries on the continent that are members of the 55-Member State African Union,.
He said that it should also be adopted by the Pan-African Parliament, and then adopted at the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union.
Moghalu said: “We will seek adoption by national parliaments and/or the Executive branches of government. We are walking a similar path as that which led to the successful adoption of the AfCFTA.
“The specific rights identified in the Private Sector Bill of Rights come from the protocols of the RECs and AfCFTA.
“The PSBoR is intended as an essential companion instrument to the AfCFTA treaty, one that domesticates the continental trade agreement inside national governments, private sector governing and coordinating entities, and in the operations of the African marketplace in reality.
“I believe that the Private Sector Bill of Rights when adopted by African countries and alongside the RECs and AfCFTA, addresses a fundamental conundrum that has confronted post-colonial Africa for decades.”
“Why have market-oriented economies created broad-based wealth in Europe, North America and increasingly in Asia but poverty remains high in the vast majority of African countries?
“Breaking this jinx is the goal of the AfCFTA and the African Union’s vision 2063 – The Africa We Want,” he said.
He attributed high poverty in the continent to the relatively low level of intra-African trade.
“The PSBoR guarantees, amongst other rights, the right to favorable credit terms to support short, medium and long term investment projects as well as trade credit supported by the Africa Trade Insurance.
” It also guarantees the right to benefit from scientific progress (innovation) and the right to local content in intellectual property,” he said.