The Vice President, Alhaji Dr Mahamadu Bawumia, has expressed government’s commitment to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He said with the collective desire for shared prosperity the confidence was there that the AfCFTA would succeed, and provide a new impetus and dynamism for the rapid growth of Africa’s economies, to deepen the process of integration in Africa.
He was special guest at the opening of the 74th Annual New Year School and Conference at the University of Ghana yesterday in Accra.
The three-day event is on the theme; Positioning the African Market for Sustainable Economic Development through African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Topics to be discussed include financial sector preparedness for AfCFTA, business, investment and industry preparedness for AfCFTA, educational sector preparedness for AfCFTA, digital technology development preparedness for AfCFTA.
The Vice President indicated that empowered Ghanaian enterprises would be frontline actors of this new, exciting journey in Africa’s economic history, adding “we owe it to generations unborn to ensure that the biggest trading bloc on the globe, whose outcomes will be rewarding to all, and which will assist in attaining the Africa We Want, does not falter”.
He said while recent domestic and global economic challenges have negatively impacted the economy, it is important that we promote AfCFTA efforts of key stakeholders such as industry, the private sector, academia and government to reposition Ghana through trade.
Dr Bawumia stated that while trade between African countries remains low, currently standing at some 16 per cent of our combined GDP, compared to other parts of the world, like the European Union’s 75 per cent, it is obvious that these very low levels of intra-regional trade cannot improve the prospects of bringing prosperity to our peoples.
“The Free Trade Area will cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion, across the 54 Member States of the African Union that have signed up to the agreement that will provide the opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent,” he added.
He said government was investing in trade-related infrastructure in order to facilitate trade especially the on-going expansion of the Tema and the Takoradi Port expansions as well as the development of numerous road projects and railway networks, are all testaments of government’s resolve to leverage on AfCFTA’s opportunities.
He commended the University of Ghana for being the beacon of hope for higher education in the Global South, and for contribution to national discourse guided by its core mandates of research, education, and community service.
The Secretary General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, in his virtual address said the successful implementation of the AfCFTA would not only promote the tourism and telecom sectors of African economies but would also boost development and reduce the overdependence on importation of goods and services.
He indicated that opportunities would also be created for countries with smaller economies to become major producers of goods and services competitively.
The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of McDan Group of Companies, Daniel McKorley, said the time has come for Ghanaian businesses to take advantage of the AfCFTA and be part of the continent’s history making process
BY LAWRENCE VOMAFA-AKPALU