President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday, 17th August 2020 commissioned and handed over the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat building to the African Union Commission (AUC) in Accra.
This move is a fulfilment of Ghana’s obligation to provide an office as the Headquarters for the AfCFTA Secretariat and an official residence for the Secretary-General.
Delivering a speech at the ceremony, President Akufo-Addo stated that Ghana had discharged all of her obligations towards the establishment and the setting up of the office, following the selection of Ghana, in 2019, by the AU Assembly to host the AfCFTA Secretariat.
“We are, today, handing over a fully furnished and befitting office space, in a secured and easily accessible location within the business centre of Accra, as the Permanent Secretariat of the AfCFTA. We have provided also an appropriate, furnished residential accommodation as the official residence of the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA,” he said.
With Africa’s low levels of intra-Africa trade, as compared to those of the European Union, the President explained that this situation hinders Africa’s prospects of bringing prosperity to her peoples.
“A large part of the growth and prosperity that we seek on the continent will come from us trading more among ourselves. We, in Ghana, believe that an increase in trade is the surest way to deepen regional integration in Africa,” he said.
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An effective implementation of the AfCFTA, President Akufo-Addo told the gathering, will dispel the notion that the AU is not capable of executing its own decisions, explaining that Africa’s new sense of urgency and aspiration of true self-reliance was demonstrated by the handing over ceremony.
The President, thus, appealed to all Member States, who are yet to ratify the AfCFTA Agreement, to take advantage of the postponement of the date for start of trading, and do so by December 2020, to enable AU Member States to trade fully among themselves, so Africa can harness the benefits of the AfCFTA together.
“The pandemic has heightened the importance of the success of the AfCFTA. The disruption of global supply chains has reinforced the necessity for closer integration amongst us, so that we can boost our mutual self-sufficiency, strengthen our economies, and reduce our dependence on external sources,” he said.
The President continued, “We are now the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, and we must make it count. Covering a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined GDP of $3 trillion, across the fifty-four (54) Member States of the AU that have signed up to the Agreement, it will provide the vehicle for us to trade among ourselves in a more modern and sophisticated manner; it will offer a huge opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent for the benefit of all our people; and it will give us protection in how to deal with other trading blocks.”
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The AfCFTA Secretariat is expected to administer the free trade agreement creating a Single Market for 55 countries with a combined population of 1.2 billion and a total Gross Domestic Product of about US $2.5 trillion.
The hosting of AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana will promote Ghana as an attractive regional and investment hub in Africa, boost economic activities, and provide job opportunities for Ghanaians.
The handing over ceremony was attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, the newly elected Secretary-General of AfCFTA, Mr Wamkele Keabetswe Mene, former President John Rawlings of Ghana, and other dignitaries including members of the Diplomatic Corps.