The Vice President, Dr. Mahumudu Bawumia, has said the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) presents a perfect opportunity for realising a first-world Africa that is truly independent and capable of taking care of its people.
Dr. Bawumia made these assertions at the opening of the 2021 edition of the Ghana International Petroleum Conference (GhipCon) held virtually.
The 2021 GhIPCON is sponsored by Stanbic Bank, one of the leading trade finance banks in the country, together with others. Head of Trade at Stanbic Bank, Kodwo Arizie said: “We at Stanbic Bank are excited about the AfCFTA because it has been long in coming. The Standard Bank has been operating on the continent for the past 158 years, and as a bank committed to driving growth of the continent we have been waiting for an opportunity that helps us maximise the opportunities of this continent. And for that to happen, we need to tap into our own reserves; we need to start connecting more, and we need to start leveraging on the massive opportunities that exist in Africa. We believe the AfCFTA is strategically positioned to achieve this”.
The Vice President, Dr. Bawumia, in delivering the keynote address indicated that Africa has the requisite elements which can make the realisation of this dream a possibility; and the AfCFTA is the mechanism that can expedite this. “This year’s GhipCon makes us confront the two paradoxes of growth – that is the abundance of natural resources and trading among ourselves as Africans. Africa is home to 30 percent of the world’s natural resources and has 13 percent of the world’s population, which should give us leverage over the rest of the world. However, we trade 85 percent with the rest of the world and only 15 percent among ourselves. This can be addressed with AfCFTA, as trading with ourselves will accelerate growth on the continent,” Dr. Bawumia said.
Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA secretariat, in his remarks noted that the AfCFTA has made unprecedented progress in facilitating trade across the continent since beginning its operations in 2020. He said: “So far, 36 out of the 55 countries in Africa have ratified the AfCFTA, opening up trade lines that did not exist before. This is unprecedented in the history of intra-Africa trade”.
Wamkele Mene further noted that Africa’s petroleum industry and its value chain activities are integral to the industrialisation of the African continent. He said African countries should leverage the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA to build their capacities, so as to reduce their dependence on global supply chains.
GhipCon is Ghana’s foremost Petroleum Downstream Conference, organised by the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) under the auspices of the Ministry of Energy and in partnership with the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the Association of Oil Marketing Companies (AOMCs). GhipCon 2021, which is being held under the theme ‘Positioning Africa’s Petroleum Downstream for AfCFTA’, is expected to provide critical insights into market shifts and policies occasioned by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which makes Africa the world’s largest free trade area. The virtual event is being held on the 10th and 11th March 2021.