Trading activities amongst African countries are expected to begin in January 2021 following the official commissioning and handing over of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Accra today.
The agreement was scheduled to be operational in June 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Addressing the media during the presentation of credentials by the Secretary-General of the AfCFTA to the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, assured the Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene, of Ghana's support to the Secretariat in realising an 'Africa Beyond Aid' through trade.
She said Ghana’s doors “are widely opened” to him.
“I wish to assure Your Excellency, Wamkele Mene, first Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, of the support of the Government of Ghana and, in particular, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, in the operationalisation of this African project for Africa's development.”
She noted that as historic because of the realisation of “one of the aspirations of the founding fathers of the Organisation of the African Union,” to have African countries to explore their full potentials.”
The Minister held that the handing over ceremony of the AfCFTA Secretariat is “a reflection of our strong, collective resolve to push forward this African integration agenda.”
The AfCFTA agreement seeks to create a single African market of over a billion consumers with a total GDP of over $3 trillion; a figure that will make Africa the largest free trade area in the world.
There are currently 54 signatories to the trade agreement.
Signatory countries have committed to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods and lift non-tariff barriers, among other things.