President Akufo-Addo will today, Monday, August 17, 2020, commission and hand over the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat Building to the African Union Commission (AUC) in Accra.
The Secretariat will administer the free trade agreement for creating a single market across 55 countries with a combined population of 1.2 billion and a total Gross Domestic Product of about $2.5 trillion.
A statement signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen stated that, “the handing-over ceremony will be attended by the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the newly-elected Secretary-General of AfCFTA, the Speaker of Parliament, Chairman of the Council of State, Senior Government Officials and members of the Diplomatic Corps.”
It also noted that, “due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a limited number of other guests from the Private Sector and other Public Sector Organisations have been invited to witness the ceremony. The ceremony will be broadcast live through local and international television networks and social media platforms to a global audience.”
Ghana was selected by member states to host the AfCFTA Secretariat in July 2019 during the 12th African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit held in Niamey, Niger.
As part of the obligations and commitments under the Host Country Agreement, Ghana was required to provide a fully-furnished office complex as the Headquarters for the AfCFTA Secretariat and an official residence for the Secretary-General.
Many have said that Ghana’s hosting of the Secretariat will promote the country as an attractive regional and investment hub in Africa, boost economic activities, and provide job opportunities for Ghanaians.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as of 2018 includes 28 countries.
It seeks to establish a single market for goods and services across 54 countries, allow the free movement of business travellers and investments, and create a continental customs union to streamline trade – and attract long-term investment.
With a combined market of over 1.2 billion people (which is expected to grow to 2.5 billion by 2050) and a GDP of $2.5 trillion, AfCFTA could potentially make Africa the largest free trade area in the world since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
Following a report by Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, the date for the operationalization of the agreement has been moved to January 1, 2021, instead of the July 1 deadline due to the impact of COVID-19.