By Odimmegwa Johnpeter/Abuja
As the eventual takeoff of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), draws nearer, Ghana has solicited the support of the ECOWAS in its bid to host the Secretariat of the propose continental free trade initiative, in its capital, Accra.
This Ghanaian minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey made the request at the ongoing ECOWAS Parliament Delocalised joint Committee Meeting in Accra, Ghana.
According to her, Ghana has since its independence in 1957, committed so much to Africa’s unity to deserve the hosting of a continental initiative like AfCFTA.
“Our Government has decided to and has, indeed, formally expressed its interest to have Ghana host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), here in Accra.
“We are of the firm belief that Ghana’s history and credentials on Pan-Africanism, and her continuous commitment to the ideals and values of the African Union will make her to qualify as a worthy Member State of the African Union to host the Secretariat.
I wish, therefore, to seize this opportunity to request all of you to use your good offices to support Ghana’s candidature in your respective capitals,” Botchwey explained.
She went down memory lane on the important roles Ghana played in the formation of OAU, now AU, bemoaning however that, despite these efforts, Ghana is yet to host any organ or agency of the African Union.
“In requesting your support for Ghana’s bid. I wish to explain that in spite of Ghana’s pioneering role as a founding member of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU), she does not play host to any organ or agency of the African Union.
“Thus, by offering to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Ghana is reinforcing her commitment to the African Integration Agenda.
“I trust that we can count on your full support and the support of your countries for the success of our bid,” the parliamentarian said.
In retrospect, The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is a planned free trade area, outlined in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 49 of the 55 African Union nations. If the agreement is ratified, the free-trade area will be the largest in the world in terms of participating countries, since the formation of the World Trade Organisation.
The agreement was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018. The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022. The proposal will come into force after ratification by 22 of the signatory states.