Adnan Adams Mohammed
Ghanaians are to expect a significant trade and infrastructural growth in coming years as Accra host the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) headquarters.
According to economists and trade experts, Ghana hosting the headquarters would create opportunity for the country to become the trade facilitation and investment hub in Africa.
Ghana won the hosting of the headquarters ahead of other economic and trade giants in Africa such as South Africa, Morroco and others. The Continental Free Trade Area is expected to be the largest trading block in the world with an estimated GDP of about US$3 trillion and 1.3 billion populations would begin the economic emancipation of the people on the continent.
“Mr Speaker, the hosting of the AfCTA Secretariat is going to be a game-changer and launching pad for the Ghanaian Private Sector to explore and exploit business opportunities in Africa,” Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyeremateng told Parliament, last week, after Ghana was announced winners in the bid to host the headquarters.
Mr Kyeremateng expressed that there could not have been a better time than now for Ghana to be hosting the AfCTA Secretariat, particularly at a time when both Ghana and Africa are rising.
Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance, has said that Ghana’s hosting of the Secretariat of will come with enormous benefits to the country amidst minimal challenges.
Also, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, MP for Anlo speaking on the floor of Parliament 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 them.
He said CFTA would help to catalyze the already existing regional blocks and push them into action to fulfil their regional objectives.
The AfCTA is a Single Market (Duty-free Quota free) trading bloc covering the entire African Continent with a total population of 1.3 billion and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of almost US$3 trillion.
Described as the most significant development in Africa since the establishment of the African Union (AU) (in 1963), it is the world’s largest Free Trade Area, second only to the World Trade Organisation in terms of Member States.
The initial decision to establish a Continental Free Trade Area was first taken at a Trade Ministerial Meeting held in Ghana and chaired by Ghana in September 2011.
Late President John Evans Atta Mills formally tabled the motion for the establishment of the AfCTA at the 18th Annual Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the AU in January 2012, at which the decision to establish the AfCTA was officially endorsed.
Ghana played a central role in the actual negotiations of the AfCTA between 2015 and 2018, contributions to the debates at the AfCTA Negotiation Forum. Ghana was also one of the first countries to sign the AfCTA Agreement and also the first country to ratify the Agreement, under President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
It was also the first country to offer to host the AfCTA Secretariat, after the formal signing of the Agreement at the AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in March 2018. Ghana was selected among six other countries which submitted bids to host the Secretariat, namely Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal, Egypt, E- Swatini and Madagascar.
In the final stages Senegal, Ethiopia and Egypt withdrew their bids in favour of Ghana.
Mr Kyeremateng noted that in spite of Ghana’s pioneering role in the struggle for independence in Africa and subsequent contributions to the integration of the African continent, it has not had the honour and privilege of hosting any AU Organ.