President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said the realisation of the vision of a self-reliant Ghana can sooner be attained if the country can leverage the trade and investment prospects that the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) presents.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghana was determined to free herself from the mindset of dependence on aid, charity and handout and it is the commitment to make intelligent and disciplined use of her considerable resources.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was officially commissioned on July 7, 2019, in Niamey, Niger, comprise of 54-nation trade bloc of 1.3 billion people and create a USD 3.4 trillion economic blocs.
It is the biggest integrated market worldwide aim at uniting about 2.5 billion people by 2050, and the largest trade bloc created since the World Trade Organisation was founded in 1995.
Delivering the keynote address at the official opening of the two-day national conference in Accra on Tuesday, October 20, 2020, President Akufo-Addo said the implementation of the AfCFTA, ties in perfectly with the vision of “moving our country to a situation beyond aid.”
“We in Ghana cannot afford to let the window of opportunity slip,” the President indicated and hoping that the private sector, supported by the government, would be at the forefront to take advantage of the vast possibilities the AfCFTA abounds.
President Akufo-Addo said it was within that context, that the theme for the conference— “Empowering Ghanaian Businesses to harness the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement under the framework of the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS),” is entirely appropriate.
He urged the private sector to take advantage of the agreements under the AfTCFTA to expand production both in industry and agriculture and take the lead in the socio-economic transformation of the country.
“One District, One Factory flagship policy, the integrated bauxite and aluminium industry, the iron and steel industry and the vehicle assembly plants, Planting for Food and Jobs, as well as the deliberate steps being taken to educate Ghanaian children,” President said are being pursued vigorously to transform and change the country to enable it to derive maximum benefits from the AfCFTA Agreement.
Stressing on the need to put the requisite infrastructure to derive the further benefits from the AfCFTA, President Akufo-Addo said the government was investing in trade-related infrastructure.
He cited the ongoing expansion of the Tema and Takoradi ports, as well as the expansion and rehabilitation of numerous roads and railways as “testaments of the governments resolve to leverage new market opportunities on the continent.”
Even though President Akufo-Addo was optimistic that the AfCFTA Agreement would propel Intra- African trade and expedite the rapid development of the continent, he cautioned that the benefits of the single African market would not materialise automatically as it would require conscious interventions to allow each country reap the full profits.
The Secretary-General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, commended President Akufo-Addo and Ghana for the support the Secretariat had received barely two months since its establishment in Accra, Ghana.
He said, “At a time when the governments all over the African continent are correctly inward-looking trying to recover from COVID-19, the Government of Ghana has taken a dual task of fighting COVID-19 and at the same time, the task of continuing on this journey of integration of the markets on the African Continent.”
For his part, Ghana’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, the four critical factors that define the context of what the conference seeks to do over the last two days are that the future of Ghana depends very much on its capacity to make it (Ghana) an export-led economy.
The National Conference has brought together relevant stakeholders from the private and public sectors in Ghana to discuss the government of Ghana’s export development interventions, aimed at empowering the private sector to harness the benefits of the AfCFTA.
Participants include CEOs in the Business Community, Senior Policy Makers, Parliamentarians, Academia, Representatives of Civil Society Organisations, Development Partners and the Media.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD