The President of the Republic of Ghana and the Co-Chair of the UN SDGs Advocates Group, Nana Addo Daquah Akufo-Addo opened the African Continental Free Trade Area National Conference in Accra, Ghana at the Accra International Conference Centre from 19th to 21st August 2019.

The Conference was organized by the Government of Ghana under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Trade Commission of the African Union (AU) with the purpose of bringing together key stakeholders in the country to discuss strategies and programmes interventions to harness the benefits of the Agreement.

The event was attended by members of the diplomatic corps, senior policy makers, parliamentarians, the business community, the academia, representatives of the civil society organizations, development partners,representatives of youth groups and the media. Conspicuous among the dignitaries and participants were the Former President of the Republic of Ghana, Jerry John Rawlings, the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert M Muchanga, The Deputy Chairperson of AU Commission, Thomas Kwesi Quartey, the Minister of Trade and Industry of Ghana, Alan K. Kyeremanteng, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Executive Secretary of UNECA, Dr. Vera Songwe, Coordinator, African Trade Policy Centre, UNECA, Dr. David Luke, the Governor of the Central Bank of Ghana, Dr. Ernest Addison and many other high level personalities.

The Opening Session was ably moderated by the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah. The Ministers of Trade and Industry, and the Foreign Affairs took their turn turn to delivery opening remarks. Afther which the Executive Secretary of UNECA and the Deputy Chairperson of the AU Commission followed through solidary addresses from their agencies.

In the keynote address by His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo, he eulogized the efforts of all countries, personalities and agencies who played various roles in ensuring the AfCFTA was enacted. He specially acknowledged the efforts of Former President Rawlings for his intermediary effort in working with the other Heads of States to this end. The President, who was the special guest of honour used the platform to articulate his vision for the AfCFTA for a Ghana Beyond Aid and how he and his compatriots across the member states of the AU were gearing up to make Africa the biggest trade area in the world. He also highlighted how this agreement was relevant for the achievement of the African Union Development Agenda 2063.

The AfCFTA was held for three days and had various plenary sessions to cement ideas around how Ghana would be ready to implement the Trade Agreement t the benefit of the Ghanaian trader and to the mutual advantage of the African market. The conference was held under the theme; “Harnessing the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area for a Ghana Beyond Aid”.

In other sessions, industry captains and experts from across the continent took turns to make presentations and some of the participants were given the opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions. Some YALI Alumni namely Klenam Tsonam, an entrepreneur and the President of the AGI Greater Accra Region and Sabina Morgan of Auxano Furniture.Another youth leader president was Dr. Carl Oshodi, the Executive Chairperson of the African Youth Union Commission (AYUC) who is one of the key convenors of the AfCFTA. 

The programme was also streamed live of YALI TV Online throughout the tree days of the conference for youth leaders, and tens of thousands of viewers across Africa and in the Diaspora.

Stephen Selasie Asuo
Reporting for YALI TV News