By Agnes Ansah/Sophia Prince
Members of Parliament (MPs) of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have commended President Akufo-Addo’s achievement on ensuring that Ghana becomes the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The comment follows an official statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, on the floor of Parliament on the AfCFTA.
It would be recalled that the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union (AU) selected Ghana as the host country for the Secretariat of the African Continental (AfCFTA) Free Trade Area.
The decision was announced on Sunday, 7th July, 2019, at the 12th AU Extraordinary Summit, held in Niamey, capital of Niger, after Ghana beat off competition from Egypt, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal.
The core mandate of the Secretariat would be to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which has since been ratified by 25 member states.
Almost all the six members from the opposition party who contributed to the debate praised the Akufo-Addo government for the remarkable achievement, although they took cognisance of the fact that former Presidents Flt. Jerry John Rawlings, Mr John Agyekum Kufuor and John Evans Atta Mills all played a part in this remarkable achievement.
The members also showered praises on Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen and the foreign Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, for the part they played in the process.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Majority Leader in Parliament and MP for Tamale South, who contributed to the debate, said: “Let me join my colleagues in thanking the President, Nana Addo Dankwa, for making Ghana a proud host of the agreement.”
He said that Ghana has always been a beacon of hope and leader in promoting, not just African Trade, but African liberalisation since the time of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, hence, he wasn’t surprised it was chosen to host the AfCFTA.
Commending the sector Minister, Mr Iddrisu said: “This country has never doubted his pedigree on matters of trade and trade policies, and he justified it this time, as well by articulating on behalf of the President, the position of the country to host the AfCFTA.”
“I am commending him on his personal and official effort in supporting the President as his policy adviser on trade and industry on the programme,” he added.
Mr Iddrisu, however, observed that the ministry had not done enough to add value to goods and services produced in the country, hence, he should pay attention to it.
He observed that one of the benefits Africa stands to gain from the AfCFTA is value addition to Africa’s abundant natural resources, and the promotion of economic diversification and industrialisation, yet nothing is being done when it comes to value addition in goods and services produced in Ghana, therefore, the minister should take notice and act accordingly.
He also said that the terms of trade for Ghana should be significantly improved, because even though the agreement would improve Africa countries’ terms of trade, Ghana wouldn’t be able to benefit from the initiative if its terms of trade are not improved.
Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, who also contributed to the statement, said the initiative had brought excitement to Ghana.
He was of the view that the initiative should be a matter that should bring enormous joy and pride to all Ghanaians, adding that all patriots and nationalists should celebrate the successful bid that has culminated in Ghana being selected to host the AfCFTA Secretariat.
He also said that it was only fit and proper to celebrate the minister who was delegated by the President to lead the initiative, adding that it wasn’t surprising that other competitors withdrew their bid to support Ghana win, due to work put in by other members of the Akufo-Addo administration, including the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye, and commended them as well.
Mr Ablakwa also observed that the AfCFTA should be unifier for the whole African Continent. He said that the programme, if implemented well, would be able to reduce or put an end to the numerous illegal migration recorded on the continent.
This is due to the fact that Africa is the most populous and youngest population in the world according to the UN, hence, if corruption is taken out and the benefits of the initiative implemented fully, it would lead to massive job creation, and illegal migration can be resolved, he explained.
He said that intra-African trade should also be encouraged, because that was lacking on the continent, adding further that we must bring down the barriers of trade and commit ourselves, in order to promote development, and that the initiative should be a stepping stone for African unity envisioned by the late President Kwame Nkrumah.