Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister , Margaret Mwanakatwe joined other African Union Ministers of Trade, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for a high level meeting convened by the African Union to prepare for the launch of negotiations for the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
The CFTA is slated for June14-15 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa where the Heads of State and Government will be expected to iron out the negotiations.
The ministers successfully adopted the indicative road map, objectives, guiding principles and the draft declaration that will be tabled for consideration by Heads of States and government during their meeting in June 2014.
They were also informed by the AU Commission that US$18million had been mobilised for the period 2016 – 2017 to support the CFTA negotiations.
It was emphasized during the Ministerial meeting that the consolidation of Africa’s integration efforts will enable the continent position itself in responding to the challenges of sustainable development.
This is according to a press statement released by the Zambian Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Meanwhile, Ms Mwanakatwe held a bilateral meeting with the Chief of Infrastructure and Industrialization at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Soteri Gatera in Addis Ababa to discuss pressing issues on industrialization.
The Minister observed that Zambia’s economy had been growing by over 6 per cent hence it was high time to ensure that the whole country benefits from economic development.
Ms Mwanakatwe said rural Zambia accounted for 70 per cent of the population and that the value chains must be developed by utilizing the specific potential in those areas.
“With 68 per cent of the population under the age of 35, government is developing specific programmes targeting youth employment and empowerment,” she said.
And Mr. Gatera said the situation was not only peculiar to Zambia but for many countries in Africasaying as long as Africa was exporting raw materials instead of adding value poverty levels will continue to be high.
Mr. Gatera said Africa was not only losing by failing to add value to natural resources but was also exporting jobs.
“We need to add value to our raw materials in order to develop, this is the only way to create jobs and to foster industrialization,” said Mr Gatera.