African Union (AU) Chairperson President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the era in which Africa was a pit-stop in the global assembly line has passed. In his inaugural speech in Addis Ababa, Ramaphosa referred to his vision of a prosperous and peaceful Africa.

He says that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFTA) must be implemented in a way that will benefit Africans.

“We must all ensure that the AFCTA must not become a conduit for products with little or no African value addition to enter and penetrate our local markets under the guise of continental integration. There must be a reasonable standard of what constitutes a product proudly made in Africa. We have to level the playing fields for African business so that they are able to operate in a large scale market unfettered by regulatory fragmentation,” says Ramaphosa.

Watch the video below as Ramaphosa takes up AU chair below:

Ramaphosa has also proposed that the 2020 to 2030 be declared the Decade of Women’s Economic Inclusion. He has outlined Gender empowerment as one of the priorities of South Africa’s tenure at the helm of the continental body.

Ramaphosa says more practical and sustainable ways must be found to promote the economic well-being of the continent’s women.

“Agenda 2063 calls for the allocation at least 25% of public procurement to be for women owned businesses, yet women owned businesses are given less than 1% of public procurement. We need to change this, it is not unreasonable to advocate for preferential public procurement legislation to advantage women owned businesses and for the establishment for preferential trade and customs regimes for women,” says Ramaphosa.