AfCFTA August report: The journey begins to take shape
By Richard Mammah
August is the first month after the operational processes to birth the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA were strengthened at the Extraordinary Session of Heads of States of the African Union that took place in Niamey, Niger Republic in July. It also saw a number of interesting and notable developments:
- The Government of Ghana which was awarded the host status for the AfCFTA secretariat at the Niamey summit commenced practical steps to get the AfCFTA Secretariat going. Minister of Trade and Investment, Alan Kyerematen is most active in this process.
- Ghana also convened a multi-layer stakeholders summit on AfCFTA where President Nana Akufo Addo reiterated his government’s resolve to take full advantage of the treaty.
- With the signing of an MOU in Luanda, Uganda and Rwanda reached some agreement on their lingering border and political conflicts. Open borders is an important aspect of getting AfCFTA working.
- After very notable ground work by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and helped by pressure from the African Union Secretariat and international partners, Sudan was able to resolve a substantial part of its lingering 9-month political stalemate. A new government has now come into place and the hope is that parties would continue to build on the current state of detente in the days and months ahead.
- Uganda also revived its national carrier, Uganda Airlines. Before now, its skies and that of the accompanying regional routes had been dominated by Ethiopia, Kenya and now RwandAir. The first flight of the renascent airline was to Nairobi, Kenya.
- President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa made a strong call at the G7 summit in France for world leaders to vigorously support AfCFTA. Other African leaders that attended the summit included Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Macky Sall of Senegal.
- The number of countries that have ratified the AfCFTA treaty has moved from 22 to 27. At this rate, The Difference Newspaper’s estimate that 30 African states would probably have ratified the treaty by the end of 2019 and 40 by December 2020 may very likely be met.
At its base, the goal of AfCFTA is to ‘create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.’ All African nations (Eritrea excluded) have presently signed up for the treaty.
Several notable national and international agencies the world over have already signalled their intention to support the initiative. They include the UN, the EU, JUNIDO, UN-ECA, GIZ, JICA and the AfDB. A diverse range of nations have also announced their support for the scheme. They range from China to India to Sweden, to the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Russia.
It remains to be seen now what further progress would be recorded in the implementation of this landmark treaty in the month of September and going forward.
President Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia