The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the African Union (AU), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) have unveiled a statue in honour of Issoufou Mahamadou, former President of the Republic of Niger and African Union Champion of the AfCFTA in Accra, Ghana.
The statue is in commemoration of President Issoufou Mahamadou’s pivotal leadership and Pan-African vision in driving the realisation of the AfCFTA. His key achievements in this respect include successfully leading the conclusion of the AfCFTA negotiations as AU Champion for AfCFTA; its entry into force; the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA; the 1st January 2021 start of trading under the AfCFTA; thus, being pivotal in placing industrialisation, market liberalisation, economic diversification and economic integration at the centre of the African Union’s agenda.
Secretary General, African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, Wamkele Mene said: “His Excellency Issoufou Mahamadou went to great lengths to lead and oversee the establishment and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. This statue provides a lasting commemoration of his pivotal role both for today’s and for future generations of Africans.
It represents a symbol for the collective effort and courage of African leaders in achieving that landmark. The AfCFTA provides Africa with immense opportunities for the industrialisation, diversification and economic development that will rapidly accelerate our continent to truly global competitiveness across multiple sectors.”
Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank, said: “The AfCFTA is therefore not only the most significant development in Africa since the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, but also, the world’s second largest Free Trade Area, after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in terms of the number of member states. The AfCFTA will bring together 55 African countries with over 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion into a single free trade market.
It was made possible by the vision, tenacity, courage and commitment of African leaders, the hard work of the African Union Commission and indeed the contributions of many from across the Continent. The AfCFTA provides the launchpad for Africa to genuinely compete as a major global economic powerhouse and substantially raise its market share of both intra-African and world trade in the years and decades ahead.”
The statue, which was unveiled at a ceremony on 16th July, is a product of Afreximbank’s Art Programme, which supports and promotes the African contemporary art ecosystem. In this regard, with the assistance of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Tafadzwa Tandi was selected to sculpt the statue. He used Black Serpentine Stone, relying on an ancient tradition of stone sculpting that can be traced back to the ancient Great Zimbabwe Kingdom (13th to 15th Century), which has morphed into a very popular contemporary art movement in Zimbabwe and is recognised all over the world for its craftmanship and skill.