Ghana is home to the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)—and it is not surprising. Historically, Ghana was the center of trade and commerce. As early as the 19th Century, Ghana began exporting its oil palm, and in the 1920s became the leading producer of cacao globally. Perhaps, this was why in July 2019, the AU summit of All Heads of State nominated Accra as the location of AfCFTA Secretariat. According to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, AfCFTA will be the dawn of ‘an Africa beyond aid’.
The role of Colonialism on African Economies
Colonialism had some benefits like the building of railway and road networks, as well as valuable investments in education. However, it came with its own problems. This includes the stripping of African natural resources. Raw materials such as Palm oil, cotton, ivory, and rubber—including humans—were shipped out of the continent to European nations. To date, many African countries depend on the western world for sustenance.
The background of the adoption of AfCFTA
In January 2012, there was a resolution by African Union to form a Continental Free Trade Area by 2017. African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) Legal Texts and Policy Documents highlights the objective of AfCFTA. The main objective of the AfCFTA is to create a single continental market for goods and services with free movement of businesspersons and investments. Consequently, this will pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union. The operational phase was launched in July 2019. However, in February 2020 the first Secretary-General of the Secretariat of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) H.E. Wamkele Mene was appointed.
How the new AfCFTA Secretariat will brighten the future of African economies
Unity is a vital key that will enable African countries to rewrite their economic outlook. With the opening of the AfCFTA Secretariate, African countries will be encouraged to unite and build their economies. Besides the flow of goods, it will also lead to idea-sharing. On 17th August 2020, Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo handed over the AfCFTA Secretariat to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, saying,
“Increase in trade is the surest way to deepen regional integration in Africa. We are now the world’s largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization, and we must make it count. A market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $3 trillion offers a huge opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent for the benefit of all our people.”
In response, the AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene said,
“The AfCFTA signals that Africa is open for business and mutually beneficial investment, thereby creating decent jobs and improving livelihoods.”
According to Ghana’s Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, the opening of a free trade area may increase Intra-African trade by up to to 52% within the next two years. Hopefully, the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area will boost economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 era.