Virtually in the immediate wake of operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on January 1, 2021, Retired Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is reported as “rooting for a larger African market.”
Conceived at the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union in Ethiopia in January 2012 – and established in 2018 – AfCFTA in to create a single, coordinated/harmonised continental market for goods and services, with free cross-border movement of businesses and investments. Speaking in Accra, Ghana, at the virtual/online launching of the third African Transformation Report on July 15 this year, Ms Sirleaf said AfCFTA “will reinforce badly-needed economic integration in Africa. Therefore, she stressed, “now is the time to reinforce the push for African integration – not just through trade, but also through greater collaboration… Only then would Africa see its economies transform and develop the leadership and institutions to build the Africa we want…”
How true, we say of Ms Sirleaf, dubbed ‘Africa’s own Iron Lady’ who also happened to be the continent’s first female Head of State as President of Liberia from 2006 to 2018.
Economic transformation is at the centre of Africa’s development agenda, and AfCFTA will – among other things – open up the world’s largest trading bloc for businesses and investors: a single market of some 1.34 billion consumers. In other words: cooperation is crucial for the continent’s all-inclusive, sustainable socioeconomic development. It is with this in mind that we urge the Tanzania government to firmly clamber aboard the AfCFTA bandwagon – the Agreement for which the country signed on March 21, 2018. On June 30, 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan reaffirmed Tanzania’s commitment to ratify the AfCFTA pact when she met with the visiting AfCFTA Secretary General in Dodoma, Mr Wamkele Mene. The sooner we ‘go AfCFTA,’ the better shall we gain from its positive cascading effect on our economy and social wellbeing, we say.
CALLS ON MOUNT KILIMANJARO APT
Once again, Tanzanian authorities feel compelled to urge redoubled efforts at promoting-cum-marketing Mount Kilimanjaro as being in Tanzania.
As we reported in these pages yesterday, Tourism Minister Damas Ndumbaro has urged the relevant institutions to continue informing the world that The Kilimanjaro is one of Tanzania’s major tourist attractions, as it is geographically, statutorily and otherwise located in Tanzania.
At 5,895m (19,341ft) above sea level – and dubbed the ‘Roof of Africa’ – Mount Kilimanjaro is also the world’s highest ‘stand-alone,’ snow-capped mountain slap-bang on the Equator. Legend has it that the mountain was a formidable barrier to locals wanting to travel to neighbouring Kenya in the past. This resulted in the mountain becoming known as ‘Kilema Kyaro’ in the Chagga dialect, meaning a ‘barrier to travel.’ In marketing their tourism business in tourist source markets abroad, Kenyans tell prospective tourists to ‘Visit Kenya and see/climb Mount Kilimanjaro.’ Indeed, it’s possible to see – and climb – the mountain from Kenya.
But, people have taken this to mean that the mountain is in Kenya. Well… It isn’t!
Hence calls by Tanzania to all and sundry to counter that misconception in the best interests of the country’s tourism industry – and a lesson in geography.