President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has assured the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union that the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be operational by 31st March, 2020.
The Agreement is aimed at improving intra- African trade to among other things, create a single market, deepen the economic integration of the continent, establish a liberalized market through multiple rounds of negotiations and aid the movement of capital and people, facilitating investment.
Speaking at the 33rd AU Summit on Sunday, 9th February 2020, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, President Akufo-Addo indicated that Ghana, after being selected as host country for the Secretariat, was “directed to work with the AU Commission to ensure an expeditious and efficient process of establishing a permanent Secretariat for the AfCFTA in Accra by 31st March, 2020.”
Outlining the activities that are being undertaken by Ghana, the President indicated that the reconfiguration of the office premises based on the specific requirements agreed with the AU Commission, including the installation of critical Data and IT infrastructure facilities, security systems, office furnishing, and corporate branding of the AfCFTA Office complex, has been done.
He also stated that “the acquisition and furnishing of the residence of the Secretary-General of AfCFTA, based on the requirements agreed with the AU Commission” has been completed, with the “initiation of negotiations with real estate companies for residential accommodation for other AfCFTA staff.”
In addition to the finalization of arrangements of health and educational facilities for AfCFTA management and staff, the President stated that a dedicated booth at the Kotoka International Airport, to facilitate entry and exit requirements of AfCFTA officials, as well as representatives of Member States, who will be conducting official business with the AfCFTA Secretariat, has been secured.
“The Government of Ghana sponsored six (6) different meetings of the AfCFTA in December 2019, in Accra. Thus by far, a total amount of US$3 million has been advanced by the Government of Ghana for the establishment and operationalization of the AfCFTA Secretariat,” President Akufo-Addo added.
He reiterated Ghana’s determination “to establish the Secretariat by the end of March 2020, which will be of world-class quality, and to help ensure that, by 1st July, 2020, as mandated by the Assembly, the AfCFTA takes off without a hitch.”
Ghana’s parliament in April 2018 gave its backing to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, seeking to boost intra-Africa trade through the creation of a single market for goods and services.
Earlier on Sunday, 9th February 2020, President Akufo-Addo held a meeting with Member States of the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS).
With Ghana serving as Chair of COMSATS, the President told Heads of State and representatives of 27 Member States that the purpose of the meeting was to ensure that Member States recommit themselves to the work of COMSATS, and to reposition the Commission to support the collective drive for development, leveraging science, technology and innovation.