File image: SEIFSA CEO, Kaizer Nyatsumba
JOHANNESBURG - Creating a single market for goods and services through the much-anticipated Continental Free Trade Area according to Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA) CEO, Kaizer Nyatsumba, will create enormous opportunities for manufacturers in the continent.

The 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Assembly of Heads and Government of the African Union (AU), that was held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, adopted the decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by an suggestive date of 2017.

The AU at the summit also adopted the Action Plan on Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) with seven clusters, which are trade policy, trade facilitation, productive capacity, trade related infrastructure, trade finance, trade information, and factor market integration.

Communicating ahead of the 3rd Southern African Metals and Engineering Indaba, that will commence from 14-15 September in Sandton, Nyatsumba said if African leaders were stern about trade and economic integration, they should take action speedily in the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area.

"The Continental Free Trade Area is an important step in the continent’s desired transition from reliance on exports of raw materials to manufactured products. The downturn in commodities has exposed the fragility of some of the African economies. The Free Trade Area is also critical for the rapid industrialization of the continent and Southern Africa, in particular," Nyatsumba said.

The 2017 Indaba, in one of the sessions will to an extreme degree assess the progression made in the implementation of the CFTA and the implications it will have on manufacturing in Southern Africa.

The Department of Trade and Industry Chief Director for Africa Multilateral Relations, Wamkele Mene, Africa House Director, Duncan Bonnet, and University of Stellenbosch Emeritus, Professor Collin McCarthy will be speakers on this topic.

Other speakers at the conference will be ANC Treasurer-General, Dr Zweli Mkize and ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) member, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who will deliver the Opening and Closing addresses, respectively.

"The agenda to advance Africa’s economic transformation through, among others, economic diversification, makes elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers among African countries urgent. Therefore, the creation of a single and functional continental market for goods and services must be a priority," Nyatsumba concluded.