Hosting the African continental Free Trade Agreement(AfCFTA) Secretariat will make Ghana a beacon and icon of West Africa, the Minister of Business Development has said.
Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal is of strong conviction that when the Ghana wins the bid to get the Head office situated in Accra it will open more chances for the country.
This was contained in speech read on his behalf at last Wednesday's workshop organised by Firmus Advisory Limited in Accra.
Ghana is among six countries bidding to host the secretariat, having countries such as Senegal, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Ethiopia and eSwatini to contend with.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, it is gratifying to hear that Ghana is currently negotiating to host the AfCFTA Secretariat, as the AU inspectorate were in Ghana some few days ago to check on our preparedness and by the grace of God, should this move become a reality, Ghana would once again be positioned and pushed forward on the World business map and regional integration scoreboard," the statement read.
"It would make Ghana a beacon and Icon of West Africa."
A 10-member delegation from the African Union (AU) arrived in Accra last month to ascertain Ghana’s preparedness to host the headquarters of the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) secretariat.
The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, who met the delegation at the Kotoka International Airport told journalists that the secretariat would provide about a hundred job opportunities locally, if established in Ghana.
He said it would also afford the country the opportunity to be at the forefront of the CFTA agenda.
“Ghana has for decades been at the forefront of making this argument for a free trade area, and so if a secretariat is to be set up, we think it is important that Ghana hosts the secretariat so that we can continue to be at the forefront of championing this agenda,” he said.
The delegation spent about a week in the country where they were taken to offices, residential accommodations and facilities that were required to host the headquarters.
The CFTA is a planned free trade area outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among the 49 AU nations to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments.
The 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January 2012, adopted the decision to establish the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017.
The secretariat is intended to be responsible for coordinating the implementation of the agreement, and to be an autonomous body within the AU system and the Council of Ministers responsible for trade.
The head of the delegation, Ambassador Rosette Nyirinkindi Katungye, who is the AU Advisor on Regional Integration/Bureau of Chairperson, expressed the hope that Ghana would contribute in actualising the objective and aspiration of the African continent.
Kenya and Ghana were the first countries to deposit the ratification instruments on 10 May 2018 after ratification through their parliaments.
With ratification by Sierra Leone and the Saharawi Republic on 29 April 2019, the threshold of 22 ratifying states for the free trade area to formally exist was reached.
As a result, the AfCFTA came in to force on 30 May 2019. Outstanding issues like the trade concession agreements and rules of origin remain under negotiation.
As of May 2019, 52 of the 55 African Union states had signed the agreement, with Benin, Eritrea and Nigeria the only countries not signing the agreement. 24 of these member states have deposited their instrument of ratification.
The 24 countries that have deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification with the AUC Chairperson are Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Niger, Chad, Congo Republic, Djibouti, Guinea, eSwatini (former Swaziland), Mali, Mauritania, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda, Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire), Senegal, Togo, Egypt, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Saharawi Republic, Zimbabwe, and Burkina Faso.