Mr Alan Kyeremanten, the Minister of Trade and Industry, has said the African continent is destined to capture the biggest consumer market size in the world by 2050.
He said it is for this reason that the nations on the continent should take the advantage and opportunity to trade among themselves.
Mr Kyeremanten was speaking at the opening of a two-day 2017 African Prosperity Conference organised by the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, supported by the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and hosted by the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The two-day event is being held under the theme: “The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)-Exploring Possibilities for Business Engagement across Africa.”
In the 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of States and Government of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012 adopted a decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by an indicative date of 2017.
The CFTA is to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union.
It is also to expand intra African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation regimes and instruments across RECs and across Africa in general and resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration processes.
He said if the continent could conclude with the CFTA negotiations by the end of the year, per the road map, it would provide an immense contribution to its economic development.
He suggested that the nations of the continent needed to have its industrial field ready, infrastructural development and its trade facilitation mechanism to be able to implement the CFTA.
The Minister expressed the hope that private sector would send a strong message to their various governments to develop the needed infrastructure in readiness for the CFTA.
He said the successful implementation of the CFTA would to a large extent depend on how well governments meet the needs of the private sector.
“Unless we embark on industrial reforms in the various countries, there will be no goods to trade with on the continent,” he said.
Mr Kyeremanten said it was for this reason that the Ghanaian government was establishing industrial parks in all its ten regions.
He said the larger, more viable economic space would allow African markets to function better and promote competition as well as resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping regional economic communities.
He said the theme for the conference was, therefore, timely to facilitate more interactions for the private sector operators in the continent to become subjects and own the entire process.
He said to get regular critical inputs from the private sector operators for the current government transformation of the economy, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has identified the promotion of Public-Private Dialogue and Consultation as one of its ten-Point Agenda for industrial transformation.
The Minister said the Ministry has established and institutionalised a consultative platform for regular dialogue and engagement between government and the private sector.
“The Ministry will continue to regularly sensitise the private sector on the CFTA and other contemporary trade and industry issues.
Nana Dr Appiagyei Dankawoso I, President, Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the CFTA would provide a single economic space with harmonised trade policies and a regulatory framework.
He said it was an instrument to rationalise trade negotiations, reduce the cost of doing business, support industrialisation and stimulate cross-border infrastructure projects.
Nana Dankawoso I, who is also the President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Africa has come a long way in a short time and there was every reason to believe that it could continue to grow and develop with the appropriate policy response.