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African Legislators key to AfCFTA full operation

The Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, His Excellency Wamkele Mene has submitted that it is important for African legislators, individually and collectively, to contribute meaningfully towards the vision of fostering mutually beneficial continental and regional integration, enhanced market access and good governance to spur intra-African trade.

Mene was presenting at the first Statutory Sittings of the Pan African Parliament Permanent Committees for 2023 in Midrand South Africa under the topic : “Unpacking the AU theme for 2023 and the role of the PAP in implementing AFCFTA.” On the other hand, the PAP Committees Sitting, convened under the African Union 2023 theme of the year “The Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation”, of which Mene observed it portrays determination to stay tuned to the times and resolve and commitment to work towards the realisation of this momentous flagship project of the AU.

The AfCFTA Secretary General said the topic, “Unpacking the AU theme for 2023 and the Role of the PAP in implementing the AfCFTA,” is most opportune and relevant as the continent gears up to commemorate the Year of 3 the AfCFTA, as well as the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

Meanwhile his presentation was aimed at guiding Committees deliberations and plans to key into the continental agenda for the benefit of the African citizenry and achievement of the aspirations and goals of the AU’s Agenda 2063.


Speaking on the state of play of the AfCFTA, Mene told Honourable Members of the PAP that significant progress has been made in the implementation of the AfCFTA, since its establishment in March 2018. “To-date, 47 Member States have ratified the AfCFTA agreement, out of which 46 have deposited their instruments of ratification to the Chairperson of the AUC making them State Parties with rights and obligations under the agreement,” he announced.

According to Mene, implementation of the Agreement is also progressing in phases as envisioned; while legal instruments covering the Phase I protocols on trade in goods, trade in services and dispute settlement mechanism entered into force on 30 May, 2019, he said.

He said there are four outstanding negotiations on key instruments – rules of origin and schedules of tariff concessions, as well as specific commitments on services – for trade in goods and services under the AfCFTA.

He noted:  “Currently, agreement has been reached on 88.03% of rules of origin covering nearly 5000 traded products., while 46 Member States have submitted their tariff offers, that cover these goods with rules of origin in place. Significant progress has also been made in the submission and verification of the specific commitments with respect to the protocol on trade in services. 52 Member States have so far submitted their offers. The AfCFTA Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) was operationalized with the inaugural meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) in April 2021. The selection process for the Members of the Appellate Body has almost been completed, with the selective of five out of seven persons to serve on the Body. So, for the first time on the continent, the free trade in goods and services would be backed by a robust dispute settlement framework under the AfCFTA”.

Futhermore, the AfCFTA Secretary General told Honourable Members that negotiations on the Phase II protocols have also progressed satisfactorily.  He said the Protocols on Competition Policy, Investment, and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), were concluded late last year, and tabled for adoption at the just ended 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government last February.

“Two protocols, however, remain outstanding, namely: Digital Trade (formerly e-Commerce) and Women and Youth in Trade. Meanwhile, the Secretariat has deplored the requisite trading documents to support the implementation of the Phase I protocol on trade in goods: i. AfCFTA E-Tariff Book and the Rules of Origin Manual. The eTariff Book is available online at e-, and ii. AfCFTA Trading Documents (Origin Declaration Form, Certificate of Origin, Suppliers Declaration).”

According to Mene, Heads of State and Government authorised the start of trading under the AfCFTA beginning 1st January 2021 under an ‘interim arrangement’. However, he said trading in AfCFTA-certified products only commenced following the launch of the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI), on 7th October, 2022. Currently, seven state parties namely Ghana, Egypt, Tanzania, Rwanda, Kenya, Mauritius, Cameroon, and Tunisia, are piloting the initiative involving more than 96 products, he said.

Mene said the most important aspect of the Guided Trade Initiative is in demonstrating that beyond enhanced trade flows we can deliver inclusive benefits and opportunities for all. “However, we need to scale it up. We need all the State Parties to come on board for a successful implementation of this laudable initiative,” he said.


The AfCFTA Secretary General took time to explain how the PAP comes into the picture as far as AfCFTA is concerned. He said one important function of the PAP is to facilitate and oversee the implementation of AU policies, objectives and programmes. According to Mene, the PAP, therefore, has important advisory and monitoring role to play for the successful implementation of the AU theme of the year 2023.

“It is important at this stage that African legislators, individually and collectively, contribute meaningfully toward the vision of fostering mutually beneficial continental and regional integration, enhanced market access and good governance to spur intra-African trade,” he stressed.

He said the AfCFTA provides an entry point for parliamentarians to shape the economic future of each of our countries but also that of the continent. “As the implementation of the AfCFTA progresses, parliamentarians and other key stakeholders need to be fully aware of, and find opportunities for productive engagement in the process,”he advised.

The Secretary-General said in his view parliaments are the principal democratic institution which can communicate trade issues to the people while scrutinizing the actions of governments and influencing the direction and outcomes of trade talks.

Mene stressed that the AfCFTA has moved into implementation mode albeit having completed the easiest part – that is for all the member states to negotiate a single set of rules. However, he said the most difficult part is implementation, and the designation of 2023 as the theme of the year to accelerate the implementation of the AfCFTA, is indeed, well-timed. “Accelerated implementation of the AfCFTA will without doubt promote economic dynamism among our Member States.”

A recent study by the World Bank, in partnership with AfCFTA Secretariat, indicates that the Agreement, if fully implemented, would raise incomes in Africa by 9 percent by 2035 and lift 50 million people out of extreme poverty. Therefore, Mene observed that the success of the AfCFTA will boil down to political will, discipline in execution, and the active management of conflicts that arise as implementation continues.

The achievements made so far since the establishment of the AfCFTA are truly remarkable, particularly given the number of countries, the diversities and interests involved. Interestingly, the AfCFTA is the fastest piece of Agreement with the largest number of signatories to effect its launch in the history of the AU. It is also important to recognise that implementation of the agreement may not have advanced as fast as expected. However, we cannot escape the fact the AfCFTA was virtually birthed in the midst of a global pandemic, with severe impact on the economies of the member states. As we speak, the continent faces significant challenges including political instability; armed groups; and threats to physical infrastructure which may impact the effective implementation of the AfCFTA. Many of our countries are also grappling with high levels of debt and debt-service cost, as well as the impact ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“Parliamentarians must, therefore, continue with their efforts to find solutions to these and other pressing issues in the member states for the benefit of our continent. Finally, we must all work closely together to make 2023 a year of action, one that will be remembered as the dawn of a new era of intra-African trade, “he said.

Finally, Mene honoured the important work of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP) in providing a unique platform for African peoples and their grass-roots organisations to be more involved in discussions and decision-making on critical continental issues.


The roles of PAP committees explained

28th March 2023

Permanent Committees of the Pan African Parliament facilitate the effective implementation of the policies and objectives of the OAU/AEC.

The PAP Permanent Committees roles were eloquently explained by the PAP President Hon. Chief Fortune Zephania Charumbira when giving a presentation on the mandate of the permanent committees of the PAP on Tuesday in Midrand, South Africa. Charumbira’s words of encouragement come on the backdrop of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) members are attending the PAP Permanent Committee meetings that started on March 5-9 in Midrand, South Africa.

The mandate of PAP is to ensure the full participation of African peoples in the economic development and integration of the continent, therefore the permanent committees provide oversight to ensure effective implementation of policies.

According to Charumbira, effective implementation will drive the Africa Agenda 2063, African Continental Free Trade Area, AU Shared Values, Flagship Projects such the Inga Dam Project, Single African Air Transport Market, among others; and further facilitate attainment of AU Theme of the Year: “The Year of AFCTFTA: Accelerating the AFCFTA Implementation”.

Relatedly, the objectives of the Pan-African Parliament promote the principles of human rights and democracy in Africa; encourage good governance, transparency and accountability in Member States; Promote peace, security and stability; Contribute to a more prosperous future for the peoples of Africa by promoting collective self-reliance and economic recovery; Facilitate cooperation and development in Africa; Strengthen Continental solidarity and build a sense of common destiny among the peoples of Africa; and Facilitate cooperation among Regional Economic Communities and their Parliamentary fora.



(a) The Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment;

(b) The Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs;

(c) The Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters;

(d) The Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions;

(e) The Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology;

(f) The Committee on Health, Labor and Social Affairs;

(g) The Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources;

(h) The Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability;

(i) The Committee on Justice and Human Rights;

(j) The Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline;

The Committees shall handle business that is ordinarily handled by the corresponding Specialized Technical Committee responsible to the Executive Council in accordance with Article 14 of the Constitutive Act.


As for the specific functions of the committees, the Committee on Rural Economy, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment amongst other functions: Considers the development of common regional and continental policies in agricultural sector; Assists the Parliament to oversee and assist with the harmonization of policies for rural and agricultural development; and promotes the development policy and the implementation of programs of the Union relating to natural resources and environment.

On the other hand, the Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs shall, amongst others: Examines the draft estimates of the Parliamentary budget and submit to Parliament; Discusses the budget of the Union and make appropriate recommendations; Examines and report to Parliament on the problems involved in the implementation of the annual budget; and Assists Parliament to execute its role of establishing sound economic, monetary and investment policies.

Meanwhile the Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration Matters amongst other roles: Considers matters relating to development of sound policy for cross-border, regional and continental concerns within the areas of trade, customs and immigration; Assists the Parliament to oversee relevant organs or institutions and policies of the Union; and Helps the Parliament to oversee external trade.

The Committee on Cooperation, International Relations and Conflict Resolutions shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the development of an efficient policy in matters of cooperation and international relations of the Parliament and the Union; Deals with the conventions and protocols linking the Parliament with regional and international institutions and report to the Parliament; Carries out examinations on the revision of Protocols and Treaties of the Union; Assists the Parliament in its efforts of conflict prevention and resolution.

The Committee on Transport, Industry, Communications, Energy, Science and Technology shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the development of transport and communications infrastructure; Assists Parliament to oversee the development and implementation of policies of the Union relating to transport, communication, science and technology and industry; Considers issues relating to the use of science and technology for the development of the Continent; Helps Parliament to supervise the development policies and the Union implementation programs for matters of industry, science, technology and energy.

The Committee on Health, Labor and Social Affairs deals with strategies and programs for the improvement of the lives of African peoples; Considers issues relating to regional and international cooperation in strategic planning and implementation of social development and health policies and programs.

The Committee on Education, Culture, Tourism and Human Resources shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the development of human resources in Member States;Assists Parliament to promote policy development and implementation of programs of the Union relating to access to education, promotion and preservation of culture and tourism and human resource development.

The Committee on Gender, Family, Youth and People with Disability shall, amongst others: Considers issues relating to the promotion of gender equality; Assists

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More nurses heading for the UK

28th March 2023

According to a report, the number of nurses leaving Botswana for better-paying jobs in the United Kingdom has increased significantly. This development has the potential to negatively impact the country’s struggling health sector.

Kenosi Mogorosi, the publicity secretary of the Botswana Nurses Union (BONU), in a letter addressed to union members on March 22, 2023, provides a comprehensive analysis of the factors that have affected the country’s nursing fraternity.

Through an agreement with the National Health Service (NHS), BONU was able to help facilitate the transfer of nurses from Botswana to the UK.

In a letter to the country’s nurses, Mogorosi stated that the recruitment firms Swift Trust and NEU Professionals would be coming to the country to look for 20 adult medical health nurses each.

“Submission of CV’s will be done at Lobatse Cumberland hotel on the 27th of March 2023 and Gaborone BONU offices on the 28 March 2023. Subsequently conducting interviews at Lobatse Cumberland Hotel on the 3rd April 2023 and Gaborone Hilton Garden Hotel on the 4th April 2023,” said Mogorosi.

He added that “This comes short notice because the trust is already in Southern Africa and could not reach its target in Zambia, hence coming to Botswana. All nurses who will be shortlisted for interviews should ensure that they mention that they were referred by BONU for easy coordination of sponsorship including English language tests.”

He also stated that “Since its short notice, nurses need not to travel from far places hence nurses around Lobatse and Gaborone can ensure they do submit their CVS.”

BONU is also working with the UK’s NHS to help its members secure jobs overseas as the country is going through a recruitment drive to address its shortage of 40,000 nurses.

This will increase the nursing vacancy rate in Botswana, which currently stands at over 30%. It is expected to further cripple the country’s already struggling health sector.

Last year, the Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT) said it offered roles to more than 60 nurses from Botswana. The Recruitment team at EPUT spent eight days in Botswana interviewing hundreds of nurses interested in a career with the NHS. Nesta Williams, Director of Workforce Transformation and International Recruitment, at the time said said: “We’re delighted that 66 nurses have chosen to take the next step in their nursing career with EPUT.”

“The interview panel was impressed by the applicants’ commitment to their patients, understanding of good team working, and their approach to providing excellent care.

“Some of the nurses are trained in both mental health and physical health, and this means they could choose to work in a range of services.”

The NHS’s clinical workforce is the largest in the world. Nurses play a vital role in delivering person-centered care.

Professor Natalie Hammond, Executive Nurse, said: “The last two years of the pandemic have been extremely challenging. A robust nursing workforce helps us provide safe care, meet the needs of our communities, and is key to achieving our vision be the leading health and wellbeing service in the provision of mental health and community care.”

“It’s an exciting time; our EPUT clinicians will have opportunities to share their experience and expertise with our new colleagues from Botswana.”

A recruitment team of the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust spent eight days in Botswana two weeks ago during which they say they interviewed “hundreds of applicants” who want to work in the UK.

In the first round of their recruitment campaign in Botswana, the NHS had hired 66 nurses from the huge parade of applicants and revealed that more recruitments are expected to follow.

Indications are that a nurse in England earns an average P52 000 per month; and the figure goes up to P70 000 for a nurse in Ireland and other places in the UK. In Botswana a registered nurse earns between P12 000 and P20 000.

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How to fleece P14 million from Chinese investor

27th March 2023

The modus operandi of how five men allegedly swindled a Chinese national P14 million last week continue to unravel. Highly placed sources from the intelligence, the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) and Botswana Unified Revenue Services (BURS) revealed to this publication how the whole scam was concocted.

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