The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will eliminate 97% of tariffs on goods traded on the continent, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has disclosed.
This, according to him, is to remove barriers that may hinder the growth of intra-Africa trade, the very idea behind the AfCFTA.
“The AfCFTA will eliminate tariffs on 97% of traded within the African continent, offering significant opportunities for businesses to setup and expand in Africa,” he observed.
He, therefore, encouraged businesses to take advantage of the AfCFTA to boost their trades and spread within the continent.
The President was speaking at the closing of the 3-days’ summit called the African Prosperity Dialogue, held in the Eastern Region last week.
ALL ON BOARD
He emphasised the need for the 44 African Union member states, which have already rectified the AfCFTA agreement to work to have the rest on board, especially as their people form part of the 1.3billion single market the continent provides.
“It is encouraging to note that as of November 2022, 44 AU member states have rectified the AfCFTA agreement. It is a strong evidence of great political will and commitment by the leadership on the continent to achieve market integration in Africa, and it is our duty to engage to ensure the full participation of all member states,” he stated.
Also known as the Kwahu Summit, the dialogue had brought together political and business leaders to discuss the prosperity of Africa with a focus on the AfCFTA.
The forum, which birthed a policy document to be submitted at the upcoming African Union summit, was on the theme “AfCFTA: From Ambition to Action, Delivering Prosperity through Continental Trade.”
SENSE OF URGENCY
Touching on the theme, President Akufo-Addo, who was proposed by the summit to be the AfCFTA Champion, called on the continent to work together with a sense of urgency to grab the prosperity of the people. Proffering a means to meeting the above, he cited that AfCFTA presented an opportunity.
“We in Africa must with a sense of urgency work together to guarantee the economic security and secure the prosperity of our peoples,” he opined.
“To accomplish this shared objectives, African political and business leaders as well as other strategic stakeholders should use the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA and agreement to boost intra-African trade, in order to enhance the productive capacity and strengthen its resilience to external shocks,” he added.
He was passionate about the need to stop what he described as “systemic impoverishment” of the continent and the theft of its resources, through technological advancements.
President Akufo-Addo reiterated his call on the need to institute measures to unambiguously combat illicit financial outflows from Africa estimated at about $88billion annually, “depriving Africa of significant resources that could be used in support of our developmental agenda.”
The caretaker Minister of Trade and Industry, Samuel Abu Jinapor, welcoming delegates and guests to the day three of the Kwahu Summit, urged the private sector to own the AfCFTA.
He told them to do so by continuing to work with governments across Africa to ensure its full implementation.
He said the advancement of intra-continental trade would mean private businesses can expand their markets, and venture into new territories, which were previously inaccessible to them.
“Africa can, and will unleash prosperity for its peoples,” he added.
Jinapor said for the continent to progress ” …[we must] promote a free society, anchored on democratic principles and the rule of law, including an independent judiciary, to adjudicate disputes between the state and private citizens as well as among citizens; for without an independent judiciary, investors will have no confidence to invest in our countries.”
The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, on his part wanted the dialogue to be situated in the context of the prevailing economic situation in Africa and beyond.
However, he advised the forum should not make a fundamental mistake of assuming that the knowledge-based digital economy was a thing of the past.
His reason was that Africa was at a critical stage in its development trajectory with a population of 1.3billion, which comprised about 600million internet users, a number he said had more than doubled since 2015.
According to him, the digital economy is here to stay, as “the numbers support this assertion.”
The Finance Minister was not oblivious of the fact that it is not just the fiscal and monetary interventions of governments in the macro economy that will steer the continent out of the storm, but the penetration of technology and entrepreneurial innovation by established businesses and young start-ups. Also, governments’ commitment to digitalisation and technological innovation as a policy priority.
Reiterating the theme, ‘AfCFTA: From ambition to action’, the Secretary General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele, listed some achievements of the last two and half years.
The Secretariat has established a new regime for trade in Africa and now have all the legal documents required for commercial and meaningful trade to take place.
The AfCFTA has an electronic tariff book, rules of origin manual, “which enables our traders, our economic operators to determine with certainty the harmonized rules that apply to them if they seek to trade across regions of our continent.”
He said the Secretariat has also established the pan-African payment and settlement system along with our strategic partner, Afriexim bank.
He said it was the intention of the AfCFTA that with the introduction of the pan-African payment and settlement system any trade from any part of the continent could trade in their local currency without challenges of cost of currency convertibility.
THOSE BEHIND KWAHU SUMMIT
The Africa Prosperity Dialogue, otherwise known as the Kwahu Summit, was organised by the Africa Prosperity Network (APN).
APN, a Ghanaian indigenous company, partnered with the AfCFTA Secretariat, the government of Ghana, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-Africa), the Africa Prosperity Fund, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), the Economic Commission for Africa and the Africa-America Institute to organise the maiden edition of the Africa Prosperity Dialogue, the first of what will be an annual dialogue.
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