President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has encouraged the private sector to serve as the frontline actors in the country’s quest to leverage the huge prospects of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), in order to drive the needed socio-economic growth and prosperity.
Opening a three-day national confab on implementation of the AfCFTA in Accra, he indicated that government’s overall target for the continent-wide market is to unleash the novelty and entrepreneurial talents of the Ghanaian private sector and drive growth in job creation by being able to take advantage of the existing opportunities.
“We need the private sector to take advantage of the AfCFTA to expand production, both in industry and agriculture, and take the lead in socio-economic transformation of our country; empowered Ghanaian businesses must be seen as frontline actors on this exciting journey.
“Government will assist as much as possible by fashioning and implementing a comprehensive set of policies which will empower the private sector to achieve this goal,” he noted.
President Akufo-Addo said his government remains fully committed to implementing the AfCFTA with the collective desire of shared prosperity, “and we are confident that the continent-wide market will succeed to provide a new impetus and dynamism that drives the growth of African economies”.
He added: “The AfCFTA provides a vehicle for us to trade more among ourselves in a more modern and sophisticated manner, and offers rich opportunities to explore the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent for the benefit of our people; as well as providing the needed protection in dealing with other trading blocs”.
According to the president, the AfCFTA brings immeasurable benefits to the country and continent as a whole; because the current low figures, with both intra- and international trade hovering around 12 percent and under 3 percent respectively – cannot improve the prospects for bringing prosperity to Africa and its people.
He noted: “The long-lasting growth and prosperity that we seek on the continent will come from us trading more among ourselves”.
President Akufo-Addo also emphasised that the AfCFTA’s aspirations and agenda ties in with government’s vision of Ghana Beyond Aid – a self-reliant Ghana that is free from the mindset of dependence, aid, charity and handouts, and is determined to make intelligent and disciplined use of its considerable resources as the basis for growth and prosperity.
“This vision can be better-realised if we can leverage the trade and investment opportunities which the AfCFTA presents,” he added.
To maximise the AfCFTA’s benefits, President Akufo-Addo said, government will provide the relevant physical infrastructure and prudent interventions; as well as work to maintain macroeconomic stability so as to facilitate growth of the economy.
“An efficiently managed economy that provides a business-friendly climate will be essential to driving investments, stimulating growth and creating jobs. Also, government initiatives such as the 1D1F and Planting for Food and Jobs are aimed at boosting the production line through industrialisation.
“It is this structural transformation that will give us the best opportunity to derive maximum benefits from our abundant natural resources, and from our participation in the AfCFTA, to give progress and prosperity to our people,” he said.
Trade and Industry Minister, Alan K. Kyerematen, in his remarks indicated that with the AfCFTA, the continent has finally awoken from its long slumber to create the widest free trade area in the world besides the WTO.
He was optimistic that the continent-wide agreement will propel regional economies to the next level of intra-African trade, on the grounds that regional markets are a key factor of economic stability.
He said: “The AfCFTA is without doubt an important major step in the country’s march toward economic prosperity, and it requires the support of all Ghanaians; it will among others put the country on a firm path toward national growth and prosperity”.
Mr. Kyerematen emphasised the need for governments within the region to put in place relevant infrastructure and workable policies which will enable them to rake in the most benefits from the AfCFTA market.
“The benefits of the continent-wide market will not be automatically transferred to the respective economies that are signed onto the agreement; it will require structured interventions and policies to make the most out of the market,” he noted.
He said of the three-day confab: “The outcome of this conference will lead to effective implementation of the AfCFTA, which is a game-changer and launch-pad for the local private sector to explore and exploit opportunities in Africa”.
Executive Secretary of the United Nations’ Economic Commission on Africa (UNECA), Dr. Vera Songwe – in a speech read on her behalf, reiterated the Commission’s support to the course of the AfCFTA.
She indicated: “Trade is a strategy for socio-economic development, and the best way to fulfil that is to remove the barriers to trade, hence the AfCFTA”.