Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, has said that Ghana’s hosting of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) would create opportunity for the country to become the trade facilitation and investment hub in Africa.
According to him, the Continental Free Trade Area which would be the largest trading block in the world with a GDP of about US$3 trillion and 1.3 billion populations would begin the economic emancipation of the people on the continent.
Mr Ofori-Atta made the point in a contribution to a statement by Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister for Trade and Industry on the Floor of Parliament, in Accra, on the AfCFTA and Ghana’s selection to host the Secretariat.
The creation of single continental market for Africa had long been the dream of the founding fathers of most of the major countries on the continent.
The Abuja Declaration of 1991 of the Authority of Heads of States of the Organization of African Unity envisioned the establishment of an African Economic Community. One of the building blocks for the establishment of this community was the creation of a Continental Free Trade Area for Africa.
The realization of the vision of a single market did not materialize until the AU Summit of Heads of States and Government in January 2012, which formally endorsed the decision to establish an African Continental Free Trade Area.
Since that decision was adopted, extensive preparations and negotiation were carried out by member states, finally culminating in the historic AU Summit decision in Kigali on March 21st 2018, to formally conclude the first phase of negotiations for the Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Mr Ofori-Atta also noted that since the days of Dr Kwame Nkrumah and the work that he did for the OAU, now African Union (AU), the AfCFTA is the first AU organ of importance that is coming to be hosted by Ghana.
He commended the purposefulness and the unity in the approach to this by former Presidents of Ghana to make it happen, with thumbs up for President Nana Akufo-Addo for working hard to convince his colleagues’ Head of States to support Ghana’s bid.
Mr Alan Kyerematen in briefing the House called on Ghana to leverage the opportunity to host the AfCFTA Secretariat to become the new commercial capital of Africa, a regional trade hub and economic epic-centre as well as new gateway to the continent.
He said the hosting of the Secretariat would promote Ghana as an attractive investment destination and actively facilitate foreign direct investments in the country.
He said the hosting of the Secretariat would provide opportunities to recruit many Ghanaian professionals and administrative staff to work in the Secretariat.
Mr Clement Kofi Humado, MP for Anlo, noted that the AfCFTA was going to be a game-changer in the sense that the existing north-south trade relations where Africa trades more with Europe than among itself needed to change gradually towards trade among themselves.
He said CFTA would help to catalyze the already existing regional blocks and push them into action to fulfil their regional objectives.
He also lauded President Nana Akufo-Addo, the Foreign Minister and the team for their lobbying skills to ensure that Ghana was selected to host the AfCFTA Secretariat in Accra.