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Wamkele Mene: ‘AfCFTA is going to be difficult but we’ve got to do it’

By Xolisa Phillip, in Johannesburg
Posted on Friday, 12 February 2021 16:07, updated on Wednesday, 17 February 2021 13:34

African Union "Women and young Africans are at the heart of the implementation of #AfCFTA - H.E @MeneWamkele Statement by AfCFTA SG delivered at the handover ceremony of the AfCFTA Secretariat to African Union (https://bit.ly/2PYJf8X) © AfricanUnion/twitter

The AfCFTA secretary general talks to The Africa Report about the continental trade bloc’s January launch, forging value chains and diplomatic challenges ahead.

Now that Africa’s much-vaunted free trade area has launched on 1 January, there will be big fanfare and even bigger pressure mounting for South Africa’s Wamkele Mene to make it a success.

Building up the continent’s interconnections and market of more than 1 billion people is being touted as a means to fight poverty, bring development and reduce the continent’s dependence on fickle foreign markets.

Mene, elected secretary general of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in February 2020, tells The Africa Report: “I don’t want anybody to be under the illusion this is going to be easy. It’s going to be difficult, but we’ve got to do it.”