The Ghananian government officially handed over the headquarters of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to the African Union.
The ceremony which was held in Accra, Ghana was attended by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, Moussa Faki Mahamat, African Union Commission Chairman and AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene.
Ghana was selected as the venue for the headquarters by African leaders during a Summit of AU heads of states in July 2019, to launch the implementation phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“The economic integration of Africa will lay strong foundations for an Africa beyond aid. Africa’s new sense of urgency and aspiration of true self-reliance will be amply demonstrated by today’s ceremony,” Akufo-Addo said.
He also appealed to 28 member states that have not ratified to do so before the next AU summit in December so as to pave the way for the smooth commencement of trading from 1 January 2021.
He also noted the pandemic has heightened the importance of the success of the AfCFTA.
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AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area and has the potential to transform the continent with its potential market of 1.2 billion people as well as combined GDP of around US$3T across the 54-member states of the AU.
The first Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, said the agreement offered an opportunity for Africa to confront the significant trade and economic development challenges: small national economies, narrow export base, lack of export specialisation, market fragmentation, over-reliance on primary commodity exports, high regulatory and tariff barriers to trade and under-developed regional value chains.
The African Development Bank Group provided a US$5M institutional support grant to the AU towards the establishment of the AfCFTA.
“The African Development Bank congratulates the AU/AfCFTA on the investiture of the Secretariat hosted by Ghana on 17 August 2020. The Bank is delighted to be associated with this groundbreaking, game-changing, transformational continental initiative in furtherance of the objective to create the Africa we want,” said Solomon Quaynor, the Bank’s vice-president for the private sector, infrastructure and industrialisation.
The AU maintains that the AfCFTA will offer Africa an opportunity to reduce reliance on others, reconfigure its supply chains and speed up the establishment of regional value chains which will boost intra-Africa trade.
Original article on The Exchange