President Akufo-Addo yesterday inaugurated and handed over the secretariat for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to the African Union Commission cementing the new dawn for African integration.
Coincidently, the occasion fell on the birthday of the father of modern pan-Africanism, the honorary Marcus Mosiah Garvey whose life work was toiling for the dignity of the black man and the liberation of the African continent from her exploiters.
African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is expected to increase Africa’s intra trade volumes by US$35 billion per annum and will be the world’s largest economic free trade zone. Currently, intra-African trade is a paltry 12 percent, however, with the ratification for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), it is expected to scale to 52 percent by 2023.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, put it succinctly when she delivered the welcome address and noted that: “From the very onset of the OAU to the AU, one of the key things on the agenda, has been the trade, economic integration and intra African trade…We all agree that this will propel us into the self-reliant, developed Africa that we all want”.
South African, Wamkele Mene, who was voted as the first Secretary-General of AfCFTA at the 33rd ordinary session of the heads of state and government of the African Union paid glowing tribute to Ghana’s pan-African credentials by saying: “The fact that Ghana has been awarded by the assembly of heads of states the right to host one of the known flagship projects of the African Union, which is the AfCFTA Secretariat, speaks volumes about this country. The history of Pan Africanism that would be incomplete without Ghana in the vanguard and so it is an absolute honour for me to be the first Secretary-General in Accra, Ghana.”
Ghana won the bid in July 2019 to host the secretariat of the AfCFTA and as part of the obligations and commitment in the Host Country Agreement; the country is required to provide a fully-furnished office complex as the headquarters of the secretariat and an official residence for the Secretary-General.
We can proudly say we have fulfilled that requirement and now that Accra will coordinate intra-African trade, we look to the future with a lot of optimism. Like all endeavours in life, we should not expect everything to be smooth sailing but should be ready for some bumps along the way.
The test will be to remain stoic and resolute to achieve the objectives of a common market.