The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, has opened the 7th Africa Engineering Week and the 5th Africa Engineering Conference in Accra with a call on engineers to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and to leverage the opportunities it is bringing.

The minister, opening the conference on Tuesday, outlined what he called three major strategic areas for the engineers to develop their capabilities in order to gain the benefits of the single African market.

The areas include engineering services related to production and the installation of production infrastructure, trade related infrastructure and trade in services.

The conference, which coincides with the 5th Africa Engineering, was hosted by Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE) in collaboration with the Federation of African Engineering Organisation, the World Federation of Engineering Organisation and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) under the theme: “Engineering, Inter-African Trade and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Key among the issues being discussed include goods and services, capacity building for trade, trade integration and interconnectivity, women and young engineers in trade, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Infrastructure and Intellectual Property Rights.

The minister said, for any country to harness the benefits of AfCFTA, they have to produce goods which could be sold to other African countries and said without production or value addition, there can be no AfCFTA.

The President of the Federation of African Engineering Organisations (FAEO), Mrs. Carlien Bou-Chedid, said in order to facilitate trade across borders, there was a need for engineers to be provided with critical infrastructure including good roads, rail, air transport, and digital infrastructure among others.

She added that engineering would obviously play a critical role in the implementation of AfCFTA and FAEO is uniquely positioned to deliver on what is required to ensure its success, and called for recognition for engineers.

She noted that for far too long, the continent had depended on products and services from other continents despite the skill sets available in Africa.

Mrs. Bou-Chedid added that although AfCFTA was a potential game changer, there was more work to be done to enable engineers to tap into its prospects.

The President of the Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE), Rev. Prof. Charles Anum Adams, said in spite of some success in eliminating tariffs within regional communities, the African market remained highly fragmented and that had the tendency to undermine continental free trade.

He added that the non-tariffs and regulatory barriers increased transaction cost and limited the movement of goods and services within the continent.

Fraternity messages were delivered by UNESCO representative in Ghana & Head office in Accra, Mr. Abdourahamane Diallo, and Prof.  Dr. Gong Ke, President of World Federation of Engineering Organisation and the Ministry of Works and Housing. The programme was chaired by the immediate past President of FAEO, Eng. Martin Manuhwa. The conference was called to order by the Executive Director of Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE), Ing. David Kwatia Nyante.