The Director of Customs Union of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Tiemtore Salifou has called on Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Africa to help the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement to succeed.
To this end, he has urged CSOs to continue to critique and provide inputs and suggestions to make the compact succeed.
Mr Salifou made the appeal during the Africa-Wide Consultative Seminar on the AfCFTA in Accra yesterday.
The four-day programme which opened in Accra on Monday and will end on Thursday and currently underway is being organised by the Third World Network Africa (TWN-Africa) with support from the Dutch Foreign Ministry under The Power of Voices Project.
It is being attended by CSOs including youth and women’s groups, trade unions and regional blocks and organisations such as the ECOWAS, East African Commission, Southern Africa Development Commission from African countries such as Burundi, Cape Verde, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, south Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to discuss the AfCFTA agreement.
AfCFTA is a trade liberalisation programme to create continental free-trade zone in Africa with a combined Gross Domestic of $3.4 trillion.
Mr Salifou explained that CSOs could play important roles in developing the protocols of the programme to help it succeed.
“CSOs should also learn and be abreast of the activities and programmes of the AfCFTA so they could provide meaning suggestions to make the programme succeed,” he said.
The Director of Programmes of TWN-Africa, Tetteh Hormeku-Ajei, said the removal of tariffs through trade liberalisation initiatives such as the Economic Partnership Agreement and the AfCFTA was affecting revenue mobilisation in Africa.
He said the reduction of import tariffs was affecting domestic revenue mobilisation, saying the low revenue mobilisation was contributing growing debt in the country.
Mr Hormeku-Ajei said countries such as India and Singapore as of 2007 depended on imports tariffs to raise domestic revenue to finance development programmes in the country.
He stressed the need for the various member countries of AfCFTA to put strategies in place to support local production.
Mr Hormeku-Ajei also emphasise the need for the capacities of local producers, particularly small-scale producers, to be built to boost local production and be able to compete with their foreign counters.
“If we do not put policies in place to support local production, we are going to create huge external market for others countries in the developed economies to take advantage of,” he said.
The Founder and Executive Director of the African Centre for Trade, Integration and Development (CACID), Dr Cheikh Tidiane Dieye, said so far 54 countries had ratified the AfCFTA agreement, adding that 90 per cent of tariff lines had been liberalised.
He also said the protocols on trade in goods and services had been approved.
Dr Dieye, however, expressed concern that CSOs were not involved in the negotiations of the AfCFTA agreement and entreated the AfCFTA Secretariat to involve CSOs in the discussions and negotiations on AfCFTA.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE