President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the core of the new strategic partnership between Africa, Spain and Europe would be the support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Speaking at the “Focus Africa 2023” Conference held in Madrid, Spain, on Monday, President Akufo-Addo said the AfCFTA, which began trading on January 1, 2021, is expected to link all the 54 markets of Africa, covering 1.2 billion people, into a single market.
He said the AfCFTA is the “world’s largest free trade area outside of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) itself. By 2050, it will cover an estimated 2.5 billion people, and have over a quarter of the world’s working-age population.
“Imagine the investment and business opportunities offered by the infrastructure required to link our markets more effectively. And imagine the business opportunities that this huge market would offer for manufacturing and services firms from Spain and Europe that could establish production facilities in Africa to serve the African markets, the President said.”
President Akufo-Addo reiterated the commitment of African leaders to chart a new path of trade and investment co-operation with the rest of the world.
President said despite Africa endowed vast resources — human and natural —it was disheartening that African youth do not see a future in their respective countries but had to cross the Sahara Desert on foot and drown in the Mediterranean Sea, in a desperate move to reach the mirage of a better life in Europe.
“It is eloquent testimony to the inability of the current structures of African economies — producing and exporting raw materials, importing manufactured goods and services from Europe and elsewhere — to generate the numbers of decent, well-paying jobs that Africa’s youths crave,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said “the time has come for Africa, Spain and indeed, the rest of Europe, to establish a sustainable, strategic partnership based on trade and investment co-operation on the exchange of value-added transactions. It would obviate the resort to aid, which has not achieved its purpose.”
Touching on the COVID-19 pandemic, he said the need for global co-operation has been accentuated even further by the onset of the virus.
“We need to co-operate more, and we need to co-operate smartly. Amid all the complexities of the 21st century, our interdependence requires such co-operation. So, I applaud Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for convening ‘Focus Africa 2023’ and for the brilliance of the Plan Africa III initiative,” he added.
Despite the havoc wrecked by COVID-19, the President stressed that the Government of Ghana was pursuing accelerated economic development through improved macroeconomic management, improved domestic revenue mobilisation emanating from reforms in public revenue policy and administration, creation of conducive environments for businesses to flourish, tackling corruption and curbing excessive bureaucratic procedures.
“We are ensuring that all our children have unfettered access to education through our Free Senior High School policy, we are moving towards attaining Universal Health Coverage for all Ghanaians through the National Health Insurance Scheme, we are processing more and more of our raw materials through our 1-District-1-Factory initiative, we have become a net exporter of food under our programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, and we are determined to move Ghana to a situation beyond aid,” he added.
The President urged Spain and Europe to join Africa in building a continent of prosperity and societies of equal opportunities for all.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD