AU takes over AfCFTA Secretariat, to rev up processes
By Tasie Theodore
With Monday’s handover of the secretariat complex donated by the Government of Ghana to host the operations of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA,to the African Union Commission, the coast is now clear for the revving up of the operationalisation phase of the scheme.
At the event which was held in Accra, President Nana Akufo-Addo presented the key of the complex to Mr. Moussa Faki (left), Chairperson of the African Union of the AfCFTA Secretariat, in the presence of Mr Wamkele Mene, the Secretary General, AfCFTA, who is in charge of coordinating the work of the secretariat team.
The facility would serve as the permanent secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and provides office space for the Secretary General and staff who will provide leadership and technical support for the AfCFTA and overall management of the day-to-day activities of the secretariat, implement agreement and strategic collaboration for stakeholders’ engagement and resource mobilization for the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.
At the moment, 54 of Africa’s 55 countries have signed the treaty, with another 30 also having ratified the AfCFTA Agreement, with Eritrea as the only AU member state yet to sign.
Upon its coming into its own, AfCFTA would make Africa the largest free trade area in the world with a population of 1.2 billion people and a total Gross Domestic Product of about US $2.5 trillion.
At the event also, Akufo-Addo also revealed that Ghana had secured and furnished a befitting residential accommodation to house the Secretary General and his family in Accra.
Addressing the audience, which included former President Rawlings, Ministers of State and AU officials, Akufo-Addo noted that this was the first in Ghana’s 63 years history as nationhood and the 57 years of the founding of African Union that Ghana has had the responsibility and privilege of hosting an important Pan-African institution.
He said the fact that trade between African countries remained low standing at 16 per cent of its combined GDP compared with say, the European Union whose intra-trade stood at 75 per cent, was a cause for concern as such low level of intra-regional trade constituted one of the reasons for continuing poverty that hinders Africa’s prospects of bringing prosperity to its people.
He therefore argued that increasing intra African trade would lead to rapid increase in the exchange of agricultural industrial, financial, scientific and technological products, which would significantly enhance Africa’s economic fortunes, create profit and provide opportunities for employment for the broad masses of Africans youth.
“The economic integration of Africa will lay the foundation for an Africa Beyond Aid”, he stated, also affirming that the implementation of the AfCFTA would dispel the notion that the AU was not capable of executing its own decisions.
He then appealed to all member states who were yet to ratify the agreement to take advantage of the postponement of the date for the start of trading and do so by December 2020 to enable the continent trade fully amongst itself so that it could harness the benefits of the trade together.
Trading on the AfCFTA platform is expected to commence on January 1, 2021.