“Let’s worry more about how Ghanaian companies will penetrate the African market in the AfCFTA.” – Senior Minister

The Senior Minister, Honourable Yaw Osafo Marfo has advised Ghanaian companies and entrepreneurs to think beyond the box and make their products competitive so as to penetrate other African markets.

He said this in his closing remarks of a three day conference on African regional free trade dubbed ‘National Conference on the Implementation of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement in Ghana’ held at the Accra International Conference Center from August 19 to 21, 2019.

The conference, themed ‘Harnessing the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for Ghana Beyond Aid’ was held under the auspices of the Minister and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

It seeks to solicit ideas from key stakeholders in Ghana to draw up national strategies and program interventions to access the full benefits of the AfCFTA as a country, especially on the implementation of the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda. It was attended by senior policy makers, legislators, the business community, academia, representatives from civil society organizations, development partners and the media.

The Senior Minister was of the view that the AfCFTA will only benefit those who see the opportunities rather than the challenges it comes with.

“Instead of worrying about how our market could be protected from foreign inflow, I think we should be concerned, rather, on how we can also move to penetrate larger markets of other African countries”, he said.

He said that unless Ghanaian entrepreneurs and businesses do the needful to be competitive in the open regional markets, Ghana will only host the AfCFTA secretariat in name and lose out on the benefits it brings to the whole of Africa. He also reiterated the need to employ competent individuals to occupy various positions in the secretariat and its related agencies and committees.

“Let’s ensure that people are paid for work done and not the duration they spend in the office”, he stressed. Answering questions bothering on information dispensation to SMEs and informal sector, the Minister for Trade and Industry, Honourbale Alan Kyerematen, outlines the structure of the AfCFTA secretariat and their mandate. He made specific mention of the Technical Working Groups and the National Steering Committee as the main implementers of the National Program of Action which will soon be worked at. He also emphasized the need to get the populace well informed and educated about the AfCFTA and its benefits to the individuals, businesses and the government. He said, “We will hold more stakeholder meet ups in all regions of the country to make sure that the message gets down to all”.

Background.

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement is a treaty put together by the African Union to facilitate free trade market in the region. The agreement has yet been signed by Forty-Four (44) out of the Fifty-Five (55) African states and hoping that the rest of the states will sign the agreement by 2020. It is said that the free trade area offers the opportunity for the continent to create and own the world’s largest free trade area. It has the potential to unite about 1.3 billion African people with an economy of over 2 trillion dollars.

With the agreement will see to the creation of a continental market for goods and services, free movement for goods and people and the ultimate establishment of an African Continental Customs Union.  This will, in turn, promote intra-African trade and positive competitiveness resulting in development of the whole continent.

Dumevi Kwame Apollo
YALI TV Correspondent, Ghana