The Ministry of Communications and Digitalization (MoCD) and the Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission (PCSRC), as part of government’s commitment to accelerate the country’s digital agenda, have launched the “African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Hub” which seeks to promote, enhance and advance digital trading, electronic commerce, marketplace and general services.
Launching the initiative on Monday, 29th August 2022 in Accra, the Sector Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful stated that the rollout of the AfCFTA Hub was to ensure that Ghanaian businesses have a trusted profile beyond Ghana, to strengthen the hands of industry and regulators to fight fraudsters who will also like to use AfCFTA to regionalise their nefarious activities.
She said that, Ghana as a continental leader in ICT innovation and adoption, sees the Hub as an opportunity to export its ICT goods and services across Africa and beyond, and some of those prospects have already materialized.
“AfCFTA Hub should make it easier for Technology Startups, Small Medium Enterprise (SME’s), and other producers of ICT goods and services to find markets across Africa, stressing the point that “Our business process outsourcing landscape can be revitalized by AfCFTA as Ghana becomes a hub for call center, data processing, data science and various digital services for businesses all over the continent and beyond.”
According to her, the AfCFTA Hub was designed among other things to play the role of aggregating content and tools to capacitate businesses across the country as well upgrade their know-how to engage more forcefully in export markets beyond Ghana.
The Minister explained that the mechanisms of how we harness AfCFTA itself with regard to the process of trading, financing trade, discovering our market strengths and gaps to fill the means of settlement, how the goods will leave our warehouses and be received on the other side; and the tools for linking our producers with consumers in other African countries and vice versa, all of these are being digitised and made available to all stakeholders through the AfCFTA Hub.
Risk management is also key and the related ProPer Seals platform, currently being deployed by the FDA, plays a critical role.
“It is the reality of a comprehensive end-to-end identity management system interlinked with credit management, human security, business facilitation, enhanced government administration and even the improvement of democracy itself. It is the reality of a new smart working environment across the public services enabled by productivity software and dramatically improved connectivity. It is the reality of the common platform, Ghana Card, SIM Card Registration, Smart Workplace, e-Transform, Obaatanpa, Trancop, digital addressing, fintechs and the revamp of the national fibreoptic network,” she noted.
The Minister indicated that as the accelerated AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative commences in pilot form with Ghana and six other proactive African countries taking charge, “we shall commence onboarding young entrepreneurs, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), startups and all digital marketplace actors across the country onto the AfCFTA Hub, where they can obtain a free AfCFTA Number”.
The AfCFTA Number, according to her was the powerful seed of a single continental trust-building system that would complement other AfCFTA-enabling instruments such as the PAPSS, MANSA, Digital Green Corridor and e-Tariff mechanisms developed by the AfCFTA Secretariat, African Union, the 4D Consortium and trusted partners like Afreximbank and AfroChampions.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful added that with the AfCFTA number, Ghanaian enterprises were guaranteed a sure and secure navigational tool as well as a trusted profile to speed up connections across the continent for business.
She added that together with the AfCFTA Common Transaction ID, the AfCFTA Number would also serve critical anti-fraud and crime-fighting purposes domestically and regionally.
She said that the Hub would build confidence in both the entities and individuals who use their services locally and internationally. Adding that it was expected to create a true one stop shop akin to our own Amazon, EBay or Alibaba.
She used the forum to call on businesses and industry players to speed up the adoption of the AfCFTA Number and the AfCFTA Common Transaction ID frameworks in Ghana.
According to her, all persons and enterprises engaged in the business of courier, postal, delivery, logistics, ride-sharing, e-commerce, digital trading and any enterprise of that nature are required to obtain an AfCFTA Number at no cost at www.afcfta.app,
The regulation of such enterprises which hitherto has been a grey area will be strengthened by requiring electronic registration with Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission, the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) and the Cybersecurity Authority through the digital interface available on the AfCFTA Hub at www.afcfta.app.