Bank Windhoek’s Executive Officer of Retail Banking Services and Specialist Finance, James Chapman, said that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) presents a unique opportunity for African nations to trade and collaborate in unprecedented ways. “Bank Windhoek is firmly dedicated to supporting this initiative by creating platforms such as the Agri series to empower agricultural participants through knowledge sharing,” he said.
Chapman was speaking at the annual Bank Windhoek Agricultural Series, an informative live talk celebration of innovation, collaboration and the boundless potential of agriculture, which took place in Windhoek on Thursday, 19 October 2023. Chapman said that this year’s theme, the AfCFTA, was timely as the African continent and Namibia navigate the challenges and opportunities in the journey towards a sustainable future. “We understand the pivotal role that agriculture plays in our society. It feeds nations, fuels economic growth, generates employment, and sustains livelihoods. Our dedication to supporting farmers, agribusinesses, and agricultural initiatives remains unwavering,” said Chapman, adding that the Bank Windhoek Agricultural Series is a testament to that commitment, providing a platform where ideas are exchanged, partnerships forged, and innovations shine.
The Bank Windhoek Agricultural Series live talk brought together experts, thought leaders and industry professionals to explore AfCFTA’s significance, challenges and opportunities. Topics discussed by industry professionals included vital milestones, Namibia’s implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement, and how all Namibian stakeholders can work together to make the Agreement even lucrative for the agricultural sector. Agro processing as an enabler for continental value chains and how it impacts Namibia’s AfCFTA implementation efforts was one of the discussion points.
The Deputy Minister of Industrialisation and Trade, Verna Sinimbo, spoke at the event on behalf of the Minister, Lucia Iipumbu. Sinimbo said that Namibia’s private sector, including financial institutions such as Bank Windhoek, plays a crucial role in realising the potential of AfCFTA. “We expect businesses to explore new market opportunities and invest in the production of goods and services that can be completely traded within the AfCFTA framework,” she said, encouraging all stakeholders to support the government in improving Namibian livelihoods.
Chapman added that through platforms like the Bank Windhoek Agri Series, stakeholders can collectively enhance productivity, improve efficiency, and ensure the prosperity of farmers and communities in Namibia and across the continent.
The AfCFTA brief overview
The AfCFTA is a free trade area encompassing most of Africa. It was established in 2018 by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which has 43 parties and another 11 signatories, making it the largest free-trade area by several member states after the World Trade Organisation. It is the largest in population and geographic size, spanning 1.3 billion people across Africa. The agreement founding AfCFTA was brokered by the African Union (AU) and signed by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018. A permanent secretariat in Accra, Ghana, oversees AfCFTA’s negotiations and implementation.
Under the agreement, AfCFTA members are committed to eliminating tariffs on most goods and services. AfCFTA aims to increase socioeconomic development, reduce poverty, and make Africa more competitive globally. In 2022, the AfCFTA took a significant step towards its objective by establishing the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), which allows payments among companies operating in Africa to be done in any local currency.
Since 2018, Bank Windhoek has hosted various Agriculture Talk series to inform interested parties on relevant agriculture trends and topics and, concurrently, create a platform where experts in the sector can share their knowledge and contribute to the commitment and drive of the agriculture sector. The event was broadcast live on Bank Windhoek’s Facebook and LinkedIn social media platforms and is available for viewing on these platforms.