A Pan-African business networking, events and exhibition platform dubbed ‘Africa World Trade Network’ (AWTN) has been launched in the capital of Ghana, Accra. AWTN is recognised as a strategic partner to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat, and challenges itself with an ambitious agenda of accelerating intra-African trade and industrialisation.
The launch was held under the theme ‘Showcasing Africa’s Industrialisation Capacities’.
The organisation, according to the Board Chair Otwasuom Osae Nyampong VI, serves the unique purpose of exploiting public-private partnerships to generate investments which will boost sectoral growth in the areas of agribusiness, automobile, pharmaceuticals, logistics and transportation, digitisation and other critical areas needed to spur the transformation of African economies.
In his address at the company’s official launch, Osae Nyampong VI emphasised the need for African businesses and other development agencies to rethink investments and trade mechanisms in light of the AfCFTA.
Given its interest in the AfCFTA, the company has within its strategy established an innovative platform termed the ‘Industrialise AfricaTM Forum’ that will be co-organised with the AfCFTA secretariat across the continent.
The Industrialise AfricaTM Forum will be a convening of industry captains, policymakers, government officials and investors across the African continent; and as well there will be trade expos and deal-making. It is in this regard that the Board Chair of AWTN urged African leaders, industry captains from the private sector to commit to the creation of strategic partnerships and solutions needed to transform and liberalise African economies.
“With the right partnerships and support from both private and public sector actors, AWTN is determined to create an entirely new network for development on this continent,” he noted.
The Keynote Speaker for the launch, Minister for Trade and Industry Alan Kyerematen, in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Minister Michael Okyere Baafi stressed the relevance and impact of the partnership AWTN has with the AfCFTA secretariat, and the collective interest the two organisations have for Africa’s industrialisation.
“The partnership between Africa World Trade Network and the AfCFTA Secretariat is a demonstration of public-private partnership at the continental level, and it is our hope that the model sets the pace for inclusive partnership and participation by all key stakeholders in successful implementation of the AfCFTA.”
On his part, Secretary-General for the AfCFTA secretariat Wamkele Mene reassured businesses – particularly Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) across the continent – of the secretariat’s support in promoting the agenda of a single, liberalised market. He stated that, given the support of all African states and their private sectors, a new narrative of Africa’s liberalisation and development will be experienced under the AfCFTA.
“The AfCFTA is not just a trade agreement. It is not only the nuts and bolts of rules of origin, Customs procedures and all other important aspects of the trade agreement; it is ultimately about the second liberation of our continent – but this time it is not about the colonial regime or the apartheid in South Africa. This time it’s liberation from the poverty that we have been experiencing, the lack of industrial capacity, the market fragmentation, the uncompetitiveness, the smallness of our national economies. This is what the AfCFTA must solve,” said Wamkele Mene.
The Managing Director of Zenith Bank Ghana Limited, Henry Chinedu Onwuzurigbo who was a guest speaker, applauded AWTN for being innovative and responsive in harnessing opportunities within the AfCFTA for African businesses. For him, AWTN’s inauguration is timely and crucial.
“The Africa World Trade Network launch is timely and ever so crucial. I wish to applaud the AWTN for its initiative to partner with the secretariat to provide this platform for investors, SMEs and large-scale enterprises within Africa to collaborate and come up with solutions that will be implemented across various sectors to aid in rapid development and create a conducive environment for African businesses to thrive.”