The African Union has transferred all functions related to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Accra, Ghana.
The decision of the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Heads of State and Governments, positions Ghana as a gateway to trade and investment in Africa.
Mr Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of AfCFTA, speaking at a Business Forum at the commencement of AfCFTA Trading in Ghana: Implementation Arrangements, said the AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana was not only a symbol of confidence in the country but also signalled that Ghana was the commercial and trade Centre of Africa.
The transfer was recommended by the Secretary-General of AfCFTA.
We now have 54 countries out of 55, who have signed the Agreement with 34 depositing their instruments of ratification, Nigeria being the 34th country on the morning of December 5, 2020.
Ghana was one of the first countries to sign and ratified the Agreement.
AfCFTA is a free trade area founded in 2018, with trade commencing as of 1 January 2021.
It was created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union member nations.
The free-trade area is the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
Accra, Ghana serves as the Secretariat of AfCFTA and was commissioned and handed over to the AU by President Nana Akufo-Addo on August 17, 2020 in Accra.
He said through the AfCFTA, Accra, Ghana had been established as a trade and commercial diplomacy capital of the Continent.
He said the Secretariat gave practical meaning to Ghana’s long standing ideals to Pan-African.
“I am truly proud to be part of the historic journey that Ghana has begun to pioneer for the African continent,” he said.
He informed that the Secretariat was determined to eliminate tariffs and non-tariffs barriers on trading in Africa, because African countries were collectively undertaking commitments to liberalise significantly by eliminating tariffs by 97 per cent.
Mr Mene commended government and the people of Ghana for their commitment and dedication to the implementation of the Agreement.
He said by organising the forum, Ghana continued to lead and to affirm her commitment to an integrated market on the African continent.
He said January 1, 2021 was a historic day for the African continent and that day the Continent took a step closer to a vision of an integrated Africa and boosting intra-African trade and eventually creating a single market.
“We have embarked on a journey of making the AfCFTA work for Africa and make it work for small businesses, women in trade and young Africans,” he added.
Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, commended President Akufo-Addo for his commitment to the implementation of the Agreement.
He said as a Ministry, they had built a solid and sound foundation for the operationalisation of AfCFTA in Ghana.
He informed that the Ministry had conducted a series of sensitization and orientation programmes for the private sector to take advantage of opportunities.
He said the Ministry had established the National Coordination Office to provide management support for the implementation of the programme.
“We have also developed a National Action Plan or Programme, which provides detailed activities to support the private sector,” he said.
Mr Kyerematen said they had also under the direction of the President installed an institutional support structure to ensure the success of the programme.
The Minister said at the base of this structure was the technical working groups to assist the private sector in various areas of implementation.
Participants were taken through topics like Exporting and importing under AfCFTA-Process Flow, Opportunities for AfCFTA Trading for SMEs in Ghana using E-Commerce and Market Opportunities under AfCFTA.