Ghana is determined to make the most out of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement and would leverage on the trade and investment opportunities that the pact presents to accelerate the country’s development and prosperity, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said.
Addressing the opening of a three-day National Conference on the Implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement in Accra, on Monday, President Akufo-Addo said the coming into force and the successful implementation of the AfCFTA “ties in perfectly with the vision of moving our country to a situation beyond aid and a self-reliance.”
Last month, Ghana was chosen by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) to host the Secretariat of the AfCFTA. And the core mandate of the Secretariat will be to implement the AfCFTA Agreement of which 54 of the 55 African nations have signed onto, and has since been ratified by 25 AU member states.
The AfCFTA agreement makes Africa the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organisation. The agreement will cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across the fifty-four (54) Member States of the African Union that have signed up to the Agreement.
The Accra conference has brought together key stakeholders to discuss strategies and programme interventions required to harness the benefits of the AfCFTA.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the vision was to move Ghana to a situation beyond aid, dependence, charity and handouts, and that, his government’s determination to make intelligent and disciplined use of the nation’s vast resources, could be belter realized when the inherent benefits and opportunities in the AfCFTA Agreement was harnessed holistically.
He said his government, over the past two and half years, had prioritized the management of the macro-economic stability of the Ghanaian economy to facilitate growth, with the key economic indicators that were in disarray when it assumed the reigns of governance, now pointing in the right direction.
“We’ve restored fiscal discipline and managed the economy in a manner that guarantees pragmatism in mobilizing and deploying our national resources. We have efficiently managed the economy to continuously create a business-friendly atmosphere, essential to driving investments, stimulating growth and creating employment.”
Secondly, government, the President said, was committed to changing the structure of the Ghanaian economy by addressing productivity capacity issues, taking the country away from the reliance on the export of raw materials to that of adding value to the country’s natural resources and aggressively promoting industrialization.
“That is why, initiatives such as the ‘One District, One Factory’ flagship policy, strategic anchor industries, the integrated bauxite and aluminum industry, the iron and steel industry, and the vehicle assembly plants, the establishment of industrial parks, and the programme for agricultural renewal- Planting for Food and Jobs- as well as the deliberate steps being taken to educate Ghanaian children, are being pursued vigorously to transform and change the country, to enable it to derive maximum benefits from the AfCFTA Agreement.”
Noting the need to put the requisite infrastructure to derive further, benefits from the AfCFTA pact, Prsident Akufo-Addo said Government was investing in trade related infrastructure in order to facilitate trade, citing the ongoing expansion of the Ports of Tema and Takoradi, as well as the expansion and rehabilitation of numerous roads and railways as “testaments of governments resolve to leverage new market opportunities on the continent.”
With Africa estimated to have the largest youth population in the world by 2050, he said, the overarching measures to harness the benefits of the AfCFTA are to “develop and expand our economy and create sustainable jobs for our youth”, adding that, countries would have to find sustainable ways of creating jobs rather than relying on the limited public sector employment.
President Akufo-Addo 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.
He pledged that government will assist the process by fashioning and implementing a comprehensive set of policies that will empower the private sector to achieve its goals, saying, “our whole objective is to unleash the innovative and entrepreneurial talents of the Ghanaian private sector to drive rapid growth and job creation.”
Mr Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, said the AfCFTA was a major step towards the realisation of the dream for a single market that will propel the economic emancipation of the continent.
He was optimistic that the AfCFTA Agreement would propel intra- African trade and expedite the rapid development of the continent but cautioned that the benefits of the single African market would not materialize automatically, as it would require conscious interventions to allow each country reap the full profits.
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