August 17, 2020

Ghana Hands over AfCFTA Headquarters to African Union

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Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo (R), African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat (L) and AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene (C)

The Ghanaian government on Monday officially commissioned and handed over the headquarters of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to the African Union in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

The handover ceremony was attended by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat and AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene.

In July 2019, Ghana was selected ahead of six other countries as the country to host the AfCFTA secretariat based on regional balance formula.

Mahamat said it was “fitting” that the AfCFTA headquarters was in Accra as Ghana was a historical trading centre and remained an important center of commerce in the Africa and the world.

“Accra is also, and has always been a guardian of our collective Pan African memory, not only as a home of thought but also as a port of safety and freedom for fellow Africans fleeing persecution, and for people of African descent seeking refuge or simply coming back home,” Mahamat said.

Mahamat also paid tribute to President Akufo-Addo for his leadership and commitment in ensuring the timely completion of the headquarters.

“…I wish to salute his steadfast leadership in making the strong and legitimate case for the Secretariat, to be hosted here, in Ghana. This included contributing financial resources to ensure that this important symbol of our Union was built and ready today,” Mahamat said.

The first commercial deal under the AfCFTA is expected to take place on January 1, 2021 as outstanding discussions will take place online. Disruptions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic forced a delay of the implementation of the agreement initially set for the beginning of July.

The AU maintains that the AfCFTA will offer Africa an opportunity to reconfigure its supply chains, reduce reliance on others and speed up the establishment of regional value chains which will boost intra-Africa trade.

According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the AfCFTA is, by the number of participating countries, the largest trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organisation. Its implementation will form a $3.4 trillion economic bloc with 1.3 billion people across the continent. (Source: CGTN)

Background Information

The African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of State and Government held their 33rd Ordinary Session from 9-10 February 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. H.E Wamkele Mene, from South Africa, was selected as the first Secretary General (SG) of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat and was sworn-in on 19 March 2020, for a four-year mandate. The AfCFTA Secretariat is in based in Accra, Ghana.

The Secretary General is expected to provide leadership and technical support to the AfCFTA Secretariat and overall management of the day-to-day management of the AfCFTA Secretariat, implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement and strategic collaboration; stakeholders’ engagement; and resources mobilization for the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.

The Agenda 2063 flagship initiative the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) refers to a continental geographic zone where goods and services move among member states of the AU with no restrictions.

The AfCFTA aims to boost intra-African trade by providing a comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among the member states, covering trade in goods, services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy.

Other continental frameworks include Boosting Intra African Trade (BIAT) which aims to deepen Africa’s market integration and significantly increasing the volume of trade that African countries undertake amongst themselves from the current levels of about 10-13% to 25% or more within the next decade and The Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA), which aims to mobilize both financial and non-financial resources and enhance Africa’s industrial performance. (Source: Tralac)

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