The Ghanaian government on Monday officially commissioned and handed over the headquarters of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat to the African Union in the Ghanaian capital Accra.
The handover ceremony was attended by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat and AfCFTA Secretary-General Wamkele Mene.
In July 2019, Ghana was selected ahead of six other countries as the country to host the AfCFTA secretariat based on regional balance formula.
President Nana Akufo-Addo however on Monday, 17 August 2020 officially opens and hand over the African Continental FreeTrade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat Building to the African Union Commission (AUC) in Accra.
It will be recalled that at the 12th African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit held in Niamey, Niger in July 2019, Ghana was selected to host the Secretariat of AfCFTA by Member States of the African Union.
Mahamat said it was “fitting” that the AfCFTA headquarters was in Accra as Ghana was a historical trading centre and remained an important center of commerce in the Africa and the world.
“Accra is also, and has always been a guardian of our collective Pan African memory, not only as a home of thought but also as a port of safety and freedom for fellow Africans fleeing persecution, and for people of African descent seeking refuge or simply coming back home,” Mahamat said.
Mahamat also paid tribute to President Akufo-Addo for his leadership and commitment in ensuring the timely completion of the headquarters.
“…I wish to salute his steadfast leadership in making the strong and legitimate case for the Secretariat, to be hosted here, in Ghana. This included contributing financial resources to ensure that this important symbol of our Union was built and ready today,” Mahamat said.
As part of the obligations and commitments under the Host Country Agreement, Ghana is required to provide a fully-furnished office complex as the Headquarters for the AfCFTA Secretariat and an official residence for the Secretary-General.
The AfricanUnion announced that the first commercial deal under the African Continental FreeTrade Area (AfCFTA) is expected to take place on January 1, 2021 as outstanding discussions will take place online.
The AfCFTA Secretariat will administer the freetrade agreement creating a singlemarket for 55 countries with a combined population of 1.3 billion and a total Gross Domestic Product of about US $3.5 trillion. So far, 54 countries have signed the Agreement with 28 countries ratifying and deposed same.
In April, the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Wamkele Mene said implementation of the freetrade agreement will not be able to commence on July 1 as planned due to the disruptions occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
The AU maintains that the AfCFTA will offer Africa an opportunity to reconfigure its supplychains, reduce reliance on others and speed up the establishment of regional value chains which will boost intra-Africa trade.
According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the AfCFTA is, by the number of participating countries, the largest trade agreement since the formation of the World Trade Organisation. Its implementation will form a $3.4 trillion economic bloc with 1.3 billion people across the continent.