A FORMER Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has called on African leaders to fully implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), saying strengthening a common African market would enable citizens to attain their shared objectives of peace, unity, prosperity, and development.
In a speech he delivered at the 2nd Kenneth Kaunda Memorial Public Lecture in Pretoria, South Africa, on Saturday, June 17, Jonathan emphasised that AfCFTA serves as an economic blueprint for achieving Africa’s economic self-sufficiency, and urged leaders to demonstrate solidarity in addressing shared challenges like insecurity and poverty.
“It is time to forge partnerships across the continent that will guarantee unity and enhance its developmental prospects. It is within this context that the advocacy for the full implementation of the AfCFTA becomes very imperative.
“The initiative offers the prospect of eliminating some of the artificial political and commercial boundaries and barriers created by the colonialists that have, over the years, impacted the unity and growth of Africa,” he said.
He maintained that the initiative would connect millions of Africans, fostering unity and trade across the continent, and called on all stakeholders to wholeheartedly commit to implementing AfCFTA in order to leverage economic prospects within the continent.
In addition, Jonathan stressed the need for African leaders to address infrastructure gaps, particularly in transportation, air, and rail networks, to facilitate the movement of goods and services within the continent.
He paid tribute to the late Kenneth Kaunda who served as the first President of Zambia, describing him as a larger-than-life figure and one of Africa’s towering heroes.
Jonathan praised Kaunda’s humility, support for liberation movements, and commitment to Pan-Africanism, while acknowledging Kaunda’s post-presidential humanitarian work in providing relief for HIV/AIDS patients and promoting measures to curb the spread of the virus, as part of his enduring legacy.