- urges Ghanaian enterprises to be frontline actors
President Nana Akufo-Addo has urged the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat to address all complexities that will come with implementation of the trade bloc, in order to ensure that all on the continent get their fair share of the deal.
Speaking on the theme ‘Empowering Ghanaian Businesses to Harness the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement Under the Framework of the National Export Development Strategy’ in Accra, the president said the free-trade agreement holds the key to realising the continent’s economic dreams; hence, failure in its implementation will be inimical to generations yet unborn.
He further urged indigenous enterprises not to let this opportunity slip away, but be the frontline actors in taking advantage of the continental agreement through the interventions and programmes introduced by government to help build the capacities of local businesses.
“We in Ghana cannot afford to let this window of opportunity slip by. We hope that the private sector, facilitated and actively supported by government, will be at the forefront of trying to take advantage of the vast possibilities presented by the AfCFTA
“Empowered Ghanaian enterprises should be frontline actors of this new, exciting journey in Africa’s economic history. We owe it to generations unborn to ensure that the biggest trading bloc on the globe, whose outcomes will be rewarding to all Africans and which will assist in attaining the Africa We Want, does not falter,” he said.
The president further emphasised that government programmes such as the One District, One Factory initiative; the development of strategic and anchor industries to diversify the economy beyond dependence on traditional commodities; the Planting for Food and Jobs project that is helping to modernise agriculture so as to achieve food security and guarantee proper profitability for farmers; Planting for Exports and Rural Development programme, which focuses on developing other trade crops as cash crops; establishment of 67 business resource centres to offer business development services and technology solutions to micro, small and medium businesses across the country; and the development of industrial parks as special economic zones in collaboration with the private sector are all geared toward positioning the country better for the AfCFTA.
He reiterated his government’s commitment to ensuring that local businesses get the needed assistance to build enough capacity to maximise any gains from the agreement, saying, the new National Export Development Strategy of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority is ready to serve that purpose.
“Additionally, the National Export Development Strategy serves as appropriate policy framework in coordinating and consolidating public sector support. Let me reiterate my government’s determination to assist Ghanaian businesses take full advantage of the AfCFTA to ensure the required financial and human resources are mobilised to make Ghana a new manufacturing hub for the African continent. Government is fully committed to implementing the AfCFTA,” he said.
Also speaking at the event, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, said the secretariat is working around the clock to come out with a payment systems platform that will be cost-efficient to facilitate electronic transactions across borders.
“I am pleased to announce to you that with the AFRIEXIM Bank and other stakeholders on the continent, we want to establish an efficient and affordable payment settlement digital platform for cross-border transactions through a digitised pan-African payment system in support of the AfCFTA’s implementation.
“Without an efficient and cost-effective pan-African payment and settlements platform, the private sector will continue to be constrained in accessing new markets under the AfCFTA. We are therefore working to ensure that this digital payment platform is rolled-out as soon as possible after trading has started,” he said.
The AfCFTA provides an opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area, with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people in a US$2.5trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development. The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way for creating a Customs Union. It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation across the continent.