President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is urging Ghanaian businesses to position themselves to tap into the opportunities created by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) when it takes off next year.
The President speaking at the opening of a two-day national conference on the implementation of AfCFTA in Accra said businesses and the private sector generally must take advantage of the gradual decline in reported cases of COVID-19 to boost their operations.
“We in Ghana cannot afford to let the window of opportunity slip. We hope that the private sector facilitated and supported by the government will be at the forefront of trying to take advantage of the vast possibilities presented by the AfCFTA,” the President said.
He indicated that the free trade initiative ties in perfectly with the government’s vision of less dependency on aid
“A self-reliant Ghana that has to free itself from the mindset of dependence, aid, charity and hunger and should be determined to make disciplined use of its resources the basis for her growth and prosperity,” he charged.
AfCFTA provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area, with the potential to unite 1.3 billion people, in a $2.5 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.
The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and capital, and pave the way for creating a Customs Union. It will also grow intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization across the continent.
The government in preparation towards AfCFTA, the President explained, has initiated key interventions to promote value addition including the One District One factory, Planting for Food and Jobs –aimed to achieve food security for farmers, development of new strategic industries such as garments and textiles, pharmaceuticals, automobile assembly and component manufacturing, petrochemical, iron and steel among others, with the hope of diversifying the economy beyond traditional dependence on cocoa, gold and timber.
The president also stated that the government will look to continuously empower local businesses since it will generate a new sense of dynamism.
“Let me reaffirm the government’s determination to assist Ghanaian businesses take full advantage of AfCFTA and to ensure that the required financial and human resources are mobilised and developed to make Ghana a new manufacturing hub and financial service centre for the continent,” he noted.
Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, maintained that the country needs bigger markets to become major exporter and AfCFTA provides the opportunity to realise that vision.
In order to take advantage of AfCFTA, the county has to diversify its export base and export more value-added products which is at the core of the National Export Development Strategy, Mr. Kyerematen noted.
The Secretary-General of AfCFTA secretariat, Wamkele Mene, said Africa should emancipate itself from colonial economic model it inherited.
Further to this, successful implementation of AfCFTA will help lift close to 68m Africans out of poverty by 2035.