Ethiopian Airlines-DHL and African Electronic Trade Group have partnered to transport historical parcels in the African Continental Free Trade Area. The partnership is meant to invoke the start of trading of the African Continental Free Trade Area market and the operations of the African E-Commerce Platform in the continent.
The first batch of the goods arrived at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport on 01 January 2021 at a ceremony graced by high-level officials from the public and private sectors, AU, DHL and Ethiopian Airlines Group. Working in collaboration with African Union Commission (AUC) and the African business community with a vision to enhance intra-and inter-African trade, the African Electronic Trade Group transports fragile trophies to various African countries as African Continental Free Trade Area commences.
This partnership joins the pre-existing continental partnership between Ethiopian Airlines and DHL that has strengthened the multimodal logistics systems established by Ethiopian at its hub in Addis Ababa.
Mr Dumsani Masilela, Commissioner General of the Eswatini Revenue Authority remarked: “Tremendous opportunities exist digitally enabled cross border trade through the implementation of ASYCUDA World, Customs to Customs Data Exchange, Coordinated Border Management, Single Windows and other similar mechanisms pursued under the Regional Economic Communities, which need to be the norm rather than the exception in Africa. The African Continental Free Trade Area brings momentum behind our commitment for enhanced ease of doing business that we are addressing in partnership with the business community, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade and all members of the National Trade Facilitation Committee.”
So far, the fragile goods have passed through Eswatini, South Africa and Ethiopia – countries that have signed and ratified the AfCFTA Agreement.
Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, Group CEO Ethiopian Airlines said, “The link between an integrated African marketplace, free movement of persons and the single air market in Africa cannot be underestimated as it serves as a catalyst for unlocking immense opportunities in Africa for the benefit of Africans and all stakeholders. I would like to commend the African Union leaders for their strategic focus on the legal instruments that will make it easier for Africans to travel across the continent peacefully and do business with each other. I believe that the partnership with The African Electronic Trade Group and DHL is crucial, as Ethiopian is a key player in African cargo and passenger transportation. While fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to work to boost intra African trade to pave the way for a brighter future.”
The African Electronic Trade Group Southern Africa office is the origin of the cargo comprising of small fragile trophies destined to several African countries. The items are handmade by artisans in the Kingdom of Eswatini from recycled glass and converted into items of beauty.
This is to mark the start of trading of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the operation of the African E-Commerce Platform named “Sokokuu (www.sokokuu.africa)’’ which means big market, central market and unity in Kiswahili. The items produced in Eswatini and transported to various destinations across the continent symbolize that Africa is ready to exchange goods originating in this marketplace from the first day of trading.
Dr. Amany Asfour, Chairperson of African Business Council, stated: “A robust ecosystem to serve SMEs, especially women and youth, better is under construction with fresh impetus from digital technologies and enabling policies being put in place by the African Union Member States.”
A joint statement issued by the partners stated: “This is the beginning of an exciting journey between a consortium of proud and trusted African and global brands – AeTrade Group – Ethiopian Airlines – DHL.” Standing together we welcome the start of trading of the African Continental Free Trade Area with its 1.3 billion people and an estimated GDP of 3.4 trillion.”
All African countries are encouraged to sign and ratify the agreement, because universal signature and ratification of the relevant instruments is essential for seamless and hassle free trade and industrial development in Africa.
Mr. Mulualem Syoum, CEO and Chairman of the AeTrade Group, noted: “We wish to thank the African leaders for bringing this fruitful decision. The AfCFTA serves as an inspiration to the business community which propels us to make a start now, providing payment and logistics services and trade information via Sokokuu.Africa.”