– Akufo-Addo to local businesses
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has asked local entrepreneurs to exploit the enormous potentials provided by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for trade and investments across various sectors of the economy.
“Ghana, like many African countries, is blessed with an abundance of resources. However, over the years we have not been able to translate our resource wealth into the much-needed growth and development we desire; thus leaving our economy, still, in a fragile and unfulfilled state,” 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 AfCFTA’s main objectives 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.
The president, speaking at the 2nd National Conference on AfCFTA, explained that the new trade agreement will ensure that trading among member-states on the continent will be duty-free and quota-free.
He said it will significantly boost intra-African trade, stimulate investment and innovation, diversify exports, improve food security, foster structural transformation, enhance economic growth, unleash the entrepreneurial dynamism of African peoples, and create jobs for Africa’s youth.
“We in Ghana cannot afford to let this window of opportunity slip by. We hope that the private sector, facilitated and actively supported by the government, will be at the forefront of trying to take advantage of the vast possibilities presented by the AfCFTA,” he said.
To take advantage of these opportunities, he explained, the government has since his assumption of office in 2017 implemented various innovative and strategic interventions to promote and expand production and value addition. These include the One District, One Factory; Planting for Food and Jobs – aimed to achieve food security for farmers; and development of new strategic industries such as garments and textiles, pharmaceuticals, automobile assembly and component manufacturing, petrochemicals, iron and steel among others.
These initiatives are hoped to diversify the economy beyond traditional dependence on cocoa, gold and timber.
The president also stated that government will look to continuously empower local businesses since it will generate a new sense of dynamism while reaffirming government’s determination to assist Ghanaian businesses to take full advantage of AfCFTA, and to ensure that the required financial and human resources are mobilised and developed to make Ghana a new manufacturing hub and financial services centre for the continent
Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, maintained that the country needs bigger markets to become a major exporter and AfCFTA provides the opportunity to realise that vision. In order to take advantage of AfCFTA, the county has to diversify its export base and export more value-added products – which is at the core of National Export Development Strategy, Mr. Kyerematen noted.
Secretary-General of the AfCFTA secretariat, Wamkele Mene, said Africa should emancipate itself from the colonial economic model it inherited. Further to this, the successful implementation of AfCFTA will help lift close to 68m Africans out of poverty by 2035.