AfCFTA Secretariat ceremony held in Ghana
The keys to the new headquarters of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat were handed over on Monday in Ghana, where the government also established a permanent residence for the first AfCFTA head.
Wamkele Keabetswe Mene, the South African elected to the position in February, delivered remarks at a formal commissioning ceremony in Accra alongside African Union Commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo Addo and others who stressed that the benefits of a common market are more important than ever during this time of global uncertainty.
“The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has ravaged global economic activity, has severely disrupted trade and global supply chains, and of course, has had a negative effect on global public health,” said Mene. “Africa should not despair and fall into despondency – from a trade perspective, we should see this crisis as an opportunity.”
Akufo Addo noted the AfCFTA is the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization, with a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of US$34 trillion.
“It will provide the vehicle for us to trade among ourselves in a more modern and sophisticated manner; it will offer a huge opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent for the benefit of all our people; and it will give us protection in how to deal with other trading blocks,” the president said.
A recent study by the World Bank estimates that by 2035, the AfCFTA can boost intra-African trade by 81 percent with the potential to lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty and 68 million from moderate poverty.
Image: African Union
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