The AfCFTA Secretariat, which is currently undertaking various initiatives to support its Agreement, will use part of the 11 million dollars institutional support grant provided by the African Development Bank towards the development of the private sector, an advocacy drive, and the creation of employment opportunities.
This was made known during the keynote address at this year’s State of AfCFTA Trading Summit which took place at the University of Ghana Business School on Friday 29th July 2022.
Principal Advisor to the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Mr Peter Sewornu who spoke on behalf of Mr Wamkele Mene explained that awareness creation has been one of the challenges the AfCFTA Agreement has faced in its implementation.
“Over the next three years for which period the grant has been given for, we will partner with the AfCFTA Policy Network (APN) to drive advocacy as this is one of the critical areas which needs a lot of work to be done”, Mr Sewornu stated.
‘The Secretariat needs to be fit for purpose for state parties to be ready for trade under the AfCFTA and so, we will be structuring to employ more junior level staff, and also provide internship opportunities at the different directorates such as trade facilitation and administration at the Secretariat”, he added.
On his part, the Executive Director of the APN, Mr Louis Afful, urged the youth to take advantage of the opportunities the AfCFTA Secretariat is providing under the grant scheme.
“The future belongs to the youth and it is time for them to own Africa and its resources through the AfCFTA and so, I am happy about our partnership with UGBS. AfCFTA brings a whole ocean of possibilities if you know; it is about utilising and adding value to our resources through trade. In line with this, we are working on building an APN City Project which will house Centres of Excellence, Capacity Labs; as well as manufacturing and agribusiness establishments. This will allow anyone who walks into the City, to go out very developed and empowered”, he said.
Hundreds of students of the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) thronged the R S Amegashie Auditorium to understand the relevance of the AfCFTA to them; as they engaged the various Speakers and participated in different sessions by asking questions and making practical suggestions.
The Dean of the Faculty, Professor Justice Bawole expressed his excitement about the partnership with APN as this year’s theme for the Summit – The Role of The Youth in Trade and AfCFTA, Security and AfCFTA, Commodity Trading and AfCFTA, and Automotive Industry and AfCFTA” connects with his school’s mandate.
In terms of education, the Chair of the Africa Educational Trust Fund Honourable Ekwow Spio-Garbrah mentioned that his organization which was created this year represents the interest of the youth, and urged them to take advantage of its benefits.
Commercial Officer at the U.S Embassy in Ghana, Laurie Kelleher also said that the African Women and Youth Empowerment Initiative which they are spearheading is a coordinating mechanism to “bring together various groups for policy making, collaborative network and coordination.”
A representative from the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) updated the panel and audience that they are about to open a whole Secretariat dedicated to the issues of the AfCFTA; having already created a ‘Women’s Wing’ of the establishment.
Deputy CEO at the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Yaw Amoateng Afriyie said with his outfit being a government agency for investment, they are committed to a recalibration effort that seeks solutions provided by the abounding opportunities provided by the AfCFTA.
A highlight of the Summit was the dedication of Regional Office Centres in honour of APN Chairman Dr Joe Tackie, Women of Africa Network’s Joyce Williams Esq. and Dr Abena Antwi as well as AfCFTA Secretariat’s Prudence Sebahizi for their efforts in advancing the work of the APN.
During the Security and Trade Session, Director of Academic Affairs of GAFCSC Professor Vladimir Antwi-Danso, National Security’s Colonel Timothy Ba-taa Banah, and Research Fellow at the Ghana Armed Forces Command College’s Dr Quassy Adjapawn, all agreed that, for the ideals of the AfCFTA to be realised, there needs to be political will, as bad governance is the Agreement’s most potent threat. They also explained that without security, there can be no trade; and that conflict brings about poverty and vice versa.
Chief Operating Officer of the Ghana Commodities Exchange (GCX), Mr Dowuona Owoo and a panel during the Commodity Trading Session said that access to information on the AfCFTA should be made easy and reiterated that the shock of global supply chains and its associated challenges can be insulated when we pay attention to local production; while the Chief-negotiator of Angola to the AfCFTA, Rui Livramento also mentioned that the lowering of trade tariffs should allow small and medium scale enterprises to access markets across borders in areas such as manufacturing, production, Agri processing and services.
About the AfCFTA Policy Network (APN)
Established in 2019 as the foremost and largest international non-governmental organisation with a primary focus on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, the AfCFTA Policy Network (APN) runs with a vision to be the premier information, communications, and governance network representation of the Area’s Agreement within Ghana and the diaspora.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a duty and quota free single market covering all 55 countries of the continent.
The functions of the APN also include leading the AfCFTA secretariat and the wider member community with globally relevant, the continental perspective of the Agreement.