Former Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou, who championed the formation and establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, has been honoured at a ceremony in Accra, Ghana.
Mahamadou Issoufou, 69, who had a bust unveiled at the forecourt of the AfCFTA Secretariat in honour of him, also received the 2020 Mo Ibrahim Prize for “Achievement in African Leadership” Award on March 8, 2021.
Mr Issoufou served as chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in 2019–20 and led the multi-year efforts to bring to fruition the AfCFTA.
President Akufo-Addo, at the ceremony on Friday, July 16, celebrated the invaluable contributions of Mr Issoufou, bringing to fruition the pan-African trade bloc that commenced trading in January 2021.
The ceremony was attended by several African leaders, including Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi Tshilombo, Faure Gnassingbe of Togo, Burkinabe President, Christian Kabore, and Niger’s Mohamed Bazoum,
The Ghanaian President said through Mr Issoufou’s passion and dedication to the establishment of the AfCFTA, the continent is now accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market.
“As a result of President Issoufou’s relentless efforts, we have taken great strides in realising the Africa we want,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo said the AfCFTA had strengthened Africa’s common voice in global trade negotiations, which invariably would positively impact all Africans’ lives.
AfCFTA, the world’s largest free trade area, has the potential to transform the continent with its potential market of 1.2 billion people and combined GDP of around $3 trillion across the 54-member states of the African Union.
That, President Alufo-Addo said, represented a unique opportunity that would drive economic growth and development and lead to Africa’s agenda.
Commending former President Issoufou for ensuring a fair and transparent process which led to the selection of Ghana as the host of the AfCTRA Secretariat, President Akufo-Addo said, “Ghanaians are grateful to the AU under his guidance for being selected,”
The Secretary-General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, described former President Issoufou as a true son of Africa who had contributed to advancing the ideals of pan-Africanism
“As we celebrate the progress made under the leadership of President Mahamadou, let us be in no doubt that much work remains ahead in the implementation of the AfCFTA.”
“There will be challenges that may seem insurmountable; it is at that point that we should redouble our resolve to forge ahead with economic integration of our continent,” he said
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD