The Project Management Institute (PMI) has listed vital tools to accelerate implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to include availability of efficient project managers, necessary infrastructure, among other things.
In a statement made available to BusinessDay on Wednesday, George Asamani, MD, Sub Saharan Africa, PMI said AfCFTA holds so much potential for the African economy including enhancing mobility, driving transformative change as well as tremendous economic and business opportunities.
He said currently intra-African trade accounts for approximately 14 percent of total trade in Africa which lags behind Europe, North America, and ASEAN with trade levels of around 60 percent, 40 percent, and 30 percent, respectively.
“To address this disparity, AfCFTA aims to facilitate the growth of intra-African trade by eliminating trade barriers, harmonising trade rules, and fostering synergies among African nations; “Infrastructure is among the key elements essential to making AfCFTA work effectively. The development and improvement of power, transport, and communications infrastructure and the establishment of efficient road, air, port, and rail networks are crucial for enabling seamless trade facilitation and promoting economic integration,” he said.
Asamani said Increasing intra-African trade will bring numerous benefits to the continent, however, this growth will significantly burden the associated infrastructure like roads, railways, power, ports, and telecommunications as there will be substantially increased demand for new industrial parks and Special Economic Zones which must be financed and built.
“It is abundantly clear that AfCFTA is the cart, and infrastructure will be the horse that pulls it forward. Megaprojects will be crucial to the future of AfCFTA, but the problem is that these projects often go off the rails, either regarding budget or time—or both; for AfCFTA to succeed, Africa must engineer a skilling revolution. Never have the stakes been so high to ensure the timely execution of projects,” Asamani said.
He said there is a pressing need for competent and qualified project managers to deliver projects to a high standard, as efficiently and effectively as possible.
“ As these projects come to fruition, they will contribute to the acceleration of AfCFTA by facilitating smoother trade flows, enhancing connectivity, and driving economic growth in Nigeria and across the African continent; given the scope and objectives of the AfCFTA, it is crucial to identify and develop the project management skills needed to support its successful implementation and operation,” he said.
Asamani said the upcoming PMI Africa Conference which will take place from September 10-12 in Nairobi, Kenya will focus on skills transformation, youth empowerment, women in project management, and accelerating Africa’s infrastructure development.
“At the PMI Africa Conference, we are bringing together industry experts and stakeholders to share their views and insights on building a skills base that is equipped to execute on the significant opportunities presented by the pact; we are hopeful that the discussions will inform policy decisions, facilitate collaboration between public and private sectors, and place more project professionals in leadership roles within AfCFTA,” Asamani said.