Akwara Highlights the Vital Role of Traditional Institutions in Successful AfCFTA Implementation

Renowned filmmaker and producer, David Akwara, has emphasized the importance of involving traditional leaders and institutions in the execution of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. Akwara, known for directing the Pan African documentary series titled “The Rise: A Journey to Africa’s Financial Independence,” which chronicles the AfCFTA implementation, shared his perspective at the AfCFTA Youth Symposium hosted by the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat and the Republic of Zambia in Lusaka.

Observing that more than 47 nations, including Nigeria, have ratified the agreement, Akwara highlighted that traditional rulers, who hold close connections to the populace, seem to have been overlooked in the local adoption of the pact aimed at boosting intra-African trade and enhancing Africa’s global trading position.

During a presentation before H.E Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, at the symposium, Akwara asserted, “Each of us here belongs to distinct tribes and communities, with kings and leaders in these domains. I want to particularly mention the region I come from, where we have the Oba of Benin, the Orodje of Okpe, and the Olu of Warri Kingdom. These individuals are intimately connected to the African population we discuss.”

Expanding on his point, he added, “These royal figures are geographically closer to the untamed arable lands since these lands are mostly situated away from urban settings. However, I’ve noticed that in our dialogues and discussions, whether at the national or secretariat level, royal leaders have been absent from the discourse. As a young advocate of African tradition and a Christian valuing our heritage, I believe our kings have been marginalized in these discussions.”

Responding to Akwara’s insights, Secretary-General H.E Wamkele Mene acknowledged the significance of traditional leaders’ involvement and pledged to integrate them into the AfCFTA agreement’s implementation. Wamkele affirmed, “One aspect that has eluded us Africans is continental integration and market unity. When designing this integration project from an economic perspective, I believe your point holds merit. We’ve largely leaned on neoclassical theories of integration. The Abuja Treaty, for instance, lays out phases for Africa’s integration, adhering to a linear integration model, which again draws from neoclassical principles.”

He went on to acknowledge the oversight in not consulting traditional leaders during the negotiation process and expressed the potential for future engagement. “It’s important we engage them. Presently, the process is led by governments, with trade ministers and permanent secretaries steering the negotiations. However, this doesn’t preclude individual nations from initiating consultations with traditional leaders within their jurisdictions,” Wamkele stated.

David Akwara, a visionary Nigerian filmmaker, African Thought Leader, and founder of David Akwara Films (DAF), established in 2019, is a prominent Pan-African film production company specializing in documentaries, commercial and corporate films, short films, and web series. His works have been showcased at over 70 international film festivals. Akwara’s dedication to economic development drives his focus on narrating stories of progress. He has contributed to events like the 2023 United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Youth Forum, the United Nations Human Rights regional seminar, the 2021 African Changemakers Leadership Summit, and various other symposiums and summits

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