The maiden African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – Angola Business Investment Forum, has been organised in Accra to boost bilateral businesses.
The event forms part of activities marking the three-day official visit of President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço of Angola to Ghana.
The aim of the Forum was to further expand bilateral business relations through the promotion of two-way investment and mutually complementary partnerships in the relations between the two countries.
The forum was expected to drive networking for investment opportunities to boost trade and to discuss concrete solutions to attract investment, improve value addition and increase exports between Angola and Ghana.
Mr Wamkele Mene, the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, said AfCFTA was set to effectively harmonise trade in goods and services in addition to improving the business environment by reducing tariff and non-tariff barriers on the continent.
He noted that the move marks a new trade and investment era for Africa and offers a wide range of possibilities for businesses across various sectors in the member states.
“I am confident that this new dawn of continental integration presented for both Angolan and Ghanaian companies in multiple sectors including agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, petroleum and hydrocarbon activities, environment, science and technology, and tourism,” he said.
“With harmonised trade regulations and better movement of goods and services across the continent, the case for production in Africa for Africa is now a reality, where business operators in the member states can play a significant role.”
Mr Mene said with the operationalisation of the AfCFTA, African markets present significant opportunities both to grow the existing market, but more importantly, set a base on the continent with access to other markets locally, regionally, and globally.
“Indeed, the ACFTA, if duly domesticated by countries and implemented as designed, could help Africa achieve the future we want: ‘an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa’.”
He said consolidating Africa into one trade area provided great opportunities for entrepreneurs, businesses and consumers across the continent, unlocking trade and manufacturing potentials, enhancing industrialization in Africa.
He said the introduction of a continental simplified trade regime should provide small and informal businesses with greater protection, and support their participation in the new export opportunities created by the AfCFTA.
“Today, the case for investing in Africa is stronger than ever. Africa will remain a competitive investment destination for decades to come because of its improving relative risk profiles, demography, and continental integration,” he said.
“My message today is very simple: Africa is open for business. The business potential of the continent is tremendous in various sectors, including agriculture, energy, infrastructure, natural resources, and information and communications, offering opportunities for entrepreneurs.”
He urged the business community to see the continent’s unmet needs as opportunities for entrepreneurship; saying, “of course, there are challenges; but I urge you to see the challenges as a spur for innovation”.
Mr Alan Kyerematen, the Minister of Trade and Industry, said the AfCFTA provides a unique platform to guide Africa’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery effort.
He reiterated that under the framework of AfCFTA, Ghana and Angola had a lot to gain from working together in fields such as agriculture, fisheries, livestock, industry, oil and gas, the petrochemical industry, value addition to their mineral resources, development of energy resources particularly renewable energy and the FinTech industry.