25 May 2021 is Africa Day, a day I personally look forward to every year. There is no doubt that the celebrations around this important day will take on a slightly different format and tone this year (like in 2020) as we, for the most part, commemorate Africa Day virtually under the theme ‘Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa we Want.’
The world is still in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic and Africa has not been left unscathed by the impact of the virus. Our economies are firmly integrated into the global economy and as such, we have felt the recessionary effects of the pandemic. However, even this pandemic has revealed the palpable spirit of unity and perseverance that makes Africa such a special place and a continent worth celebrating, even for one day.
To quote a piece from former President of South Africa Thabo Mbheki’s speech, ‘I am an African’: “Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace! However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper! Whoever we may be, whatever our immediate interest, however much we carry baggage from our past, however much we have been caught by the fashion of cynicism and loss of faith in the capacity of the people, let us err today and say – nothing can stop us now!”
On the backdrop of the pandemic, with many countries instituting nationwide lockdowns in Europe and other parts of the world to curb the transmission of COVID-19, Africa kicked off the much-anticipated Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, a flagship project of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a blueprint for attaining inclusive and sustainable development across the continent over the next 50 years. It aims to boost intra-African trade by providing a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among the member states, covering trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy, with trade commencing in January 2021. Africa could have waited for the pandemic to pass, for the environment to be conducive but instead, we are forging ahead to create and realise the Africa we want.
On this Africa Day, let us reflect on the challenges we face, the journey that lies ahead but more importantly, let us celebrate the fact that Africa has everything it needs to prosper in the global arena, within itself, within its people, right here.
Happy Africa Day.
With the retail sector being a proven driver of economic growth and an important indicator of consumer spending, Trade Intelligence will be expanding its retail research offering to include a highly anticipated Africa Retail Report in November 2021.
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