President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Monday signaled Ghana’s readiness to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He was of the opinion that Ghana, strategically placed, and with its sacrificial role in the Pan-African movement, was a suitable place to situate the facility.
“We thought that it will be meaningful, also because we have the facilities that we should offer our capital as the site of the Secretariat of the Trade Area now that it is legally a reality; we believe we have the facilities here to be able to provide an efficient centre for the work of this Secretariat,” he said.
The President made this known when an evaluation team from the African Union (AU), led by Ambassador Rosette Nyirinkindi Katungye called on him at the Jubilee House in Accra.
“I think it’s time that the AU also do something to recognize Ghana’s sacrifices, the role…the moves that have been made to bringing all of us together; the establishment of the OAU, the AU,” he told the team.
The President called to mind the period of the formation of the OAU, when Accra was regarded as the natural place to site the Secretariat of the organization.
That decision however had to be shelved when Ghana’s first President Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who was instrumental in the OAU’s evolution, found it expedient in the interest of the country to agree with Emperor Haille Selassie of Ethiopia to instead have it cited in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
“That has been our attitude towards the Pan African project; today, we believe that apart from having the facilities…I think that there is a history…that the AU Commission and the others should try to satisfy,” he noted.
Thus, “we are very keen on the idea; a team is going all over the continent lobbying for the opportunity and I think we have an excellent case and I’m hoping that by the time you leave here, that will be your view as well,” President Akufo-Addo told the team.
The AfCFTA is a planned free trade area, outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 49 of the 55 African Union nations.
If the agreement is ratified, the free-trade area would be the largest in the world in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
The agreement was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018, which initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 per cent by 2022.
Fifty-two out of the 55 African nations have ratified the proposal and thus set to come into force hence the need for the setting up of a Secretariat for it activities and operations.
So far six countries including Ghana, have submitted their bids to host the Secretariat.
Ambassador Katungye commended Ghana for being the first nation to offer to host the AfCFTA Secretariat.
She was of the firm belief that when established, the Secretariat would be the gateway to fulfil the aspirations of making Africa a continental free trade area.