…to ensure continuity in spite of political changes – Expert
Trade practitioner and Executive Director of the AfCFTA Policy Network (APN) Group, Louis Yaw Afful, has called for signatories and parties to the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement to look to ‘critical technical experts’ within ministries of trade when selecting successors to serve on the Council of Ministers of AfCFTA.
According to him, although the Council of Ministers constitute political appointees – often ministers of trade who serve as liaisons between the Heads of State and the AfCFTA Secretariat, they also play critical roles in the negotiation and review processes of the various protocols. Thus, some level of technical acumen is needed to successfully execute their mandate.
Louis Afful says this is necessary to ensure continuity in the AfCFTA objective.
The Executive Director of the APN Group was speaking on the Eye on Port TV programme, where he drew inspiration from the resignation of Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, Ghana’s Trade Minister, who had also served on the AfCFTA’s Council of Ministers.
According to the trade expert, Ghana was privileged to have someone like Kyerematen serve on the council because he was not only a politician, but also a trade practitioner himself, with years of experience in that industry.
“If you take Alan Kyerematen critically, he was not just a policy head to implement party manifestos and government agenda. He was more than just that – he was a technical person. He was at the Africa Trade Policy Centre, which is a wing of the Economic Community of Africa under the UN. He has had initial technical expertise in the whole AfCFTA process. You can put a trade minister of a different background there but when it comes to a certain cause where technical expertise is needed, there will be an impact from his unavailability. They have to get somebody with the full technical expertise that he had in the cause for the AfCFTA implementation, or else it will slow down Ghana’s drive.”
This, he said, led to the minister’s crucial contribution to Ghana’s AfCFTA drive, calling him “one of the architects and pioneers of the AfCFTA dream”. One of the major contributions he listed was his role during formulation of the National AfCFTA Action Plan and Policy Framework – a document that spells out Ghana’s national strategy in the implementation of AfCFTA.
He said CEO of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Afua Asabea Asare, and former CEO of the Ghana Free Zones Authority and current Deputy Minister of Trade, Michael Okyere Baafi, are among viable candidates who can take up the role of Ghana’s rep within the Council of Ministers at AfCFTA. Alternatively, Mr. Afful suggested that the Chief Negotiators at the various ministries of trade in party states can play caretaker roles within the council.
He emphasised the importance of momentum when it comes to implementation of the free trade agreement, and urged that party states endeavour to ensure continuity in spite of political changes.