AfCFTA must work for its benefits

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has asked Spain and the rest of Europeto provide strong support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as they would definitely benefit from the new agreement.

AfCFTA is said to be a Pan-African private sector tool mainly meant to enable African businesses to find continent-wide trade opportunities.

The agreement is said to have taken effect on January 1, 2021 and so far 36 out of the 54 African countries which had signed the agreements had ratified it while negotiations were underway on outstanding issues.

The agreement would not only facilitate trade and services on the continent but also create jobs and eradicate extreme poverty for 30 million people and lift about 88 million out of moderate poverty, according to the AfCFTA Secretariat.

Speaking at the “Focus Africa 2023” Conference held in Madrid, in Spain, on Monday, President Akufo-Addo gave the impression the remaining countries would also ratify the agreement so that the AfCFTA would link all the 54 markets of Africa, covering 1.2 billion people into a single market. 

“It is the world’s largest free trade area outside of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) itself. By 2050, it will cover an estimated 2.5 billion people, and have over a quarter of the world’s working age population,” he said. 

The President pointed to the investment and business opportunities the infrastructure and services required to link the markets of the various countries in the AfCFTA which Spanish and other European manufacturing and services firms could take advantage of,to serve the African markets.

He reiterated the commitment of African leaders to chart a new path of trade and investment co-operation with the rest of the world, expressing worry that in spite of Africa’s vast endowment of resources, both human and natural, the continent’s youth do not see a future in their respective countries, and are willing to cross the Sahara Desert on foot and drown in the Mediterranean Sea, in a desperate bid to reach the mirage of a better life in Europe. 

Touching on the pandemic of COVID-19, he told the gathering that the need for global co-operation has been accentuated even further by the onset of the virus. 

The Ghanaian Times believes President Akufo-Addo has made a case for Africa, which other African leaders must share and make all the efforts to use the AfCFTA to attract investment into the individual countries.

To this end, the paper urges the remaining 18 African countries to urgently resolve all the outstanding issues and ratify the agreement for both its collective continental benefits and the benefits to the individual countries.

The world has reached a stage where individual countries, even the so-called developed ones cannot do it alone. Therefore, let Africa make AfCFTA work to achieve its objectives.

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