David Ofosu-Dorte, a senior partner at AB & David, has urged the private sector to make the most of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
On the Point of View on Citi TV, he said the AfCFTA could succeed “if the private sector will understand that it is an opportunity for them to take the centre stage and do something with it.”
“But if the private sector folds its arms and thinks that this is a government that is going to help them trade, then we are going to go to [an unsatisfactory] situation,” he warned.
Under the AfCFTA, which will take effect in June 2020, signatory countries have committed to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods and lift non-tariff barriers, among other things.
Mr. Ofosu-Dorte noted that there were already active expectations that the private sector will take a lead role in the implementation of the trade agreement.
“How many times have you heard anybody being interested in what the African Union is doing? This is the first time the African Union is doing what everybody is interested in. It is because, the private sector is the one doing the trading.
“If the private sector does that, then the government will become less and less relevant in terms of putting stumbling blocks and that is what we can do to change the scene. We depend on the government too much in this part of the world.”
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.
Ghana will be hosting the AfCFTA secretariat.
There are currently 54 signatories to the trade agreement.