The most important initiative introduced by the African Union (AU) is the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has said.
In January 2021, the trading phase under the AfCFTA which was signed by 54 African countries commenced.
The general objectives of the agreement include, among other things, creating a single market, deepening the economic integration of the continent; establishing a liberalised market through multiple rounds of negotiations; aiding the movement of capital and people, facilitating investment move towards the establishment of a future continental customs union.
Speaking during the Virtual Summit 58th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, on Saturday, 23rd January 2021, Mr. Akufo-Addo said “We can best attain this objective by strengthening our regional integration. Thus, the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which began trading on 1st January, presents us with additional opportunities to reach our objective.
“The AfCFTA, as we all know, is, arguably, the most important initiative launched by the African Union. We all have a duty to ensure its success.
“I remain confident that, as is customary, the quality of our discussions and the decisions we take together will be commensurate with the ambitions we have for our region.”
He further called on ECOWAS member countries to engage on the growing menace to the maritime security of our region.
Mr. Akufo-Addo said acts of piracy and maritime destabilization are on rapid increase in the Gulf of Guinea, illustrated by the data, which indicate a forty percent (40%) rise in pirate activities in the Gulf in 2020 over 2019.
“This calls for a strong regional response,” he said during the Virtual Summit 58th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, On Saturday, 23rd January 2021.
He further stated that “Ghana, on its part, has decided to pledge fifty million dollars ($50 million) over the five (5) year period, of which ten million dollars ($10 million) is destined for the Fund, and forty million dollars ($40 million) for the domestic empowerment of our border security against potential terrorist incursions. Half of the ten million dollars ($10 million), i.e., five million dollars ($5 million), has been paid by Ghana into the ESRF account, of which confirmation transfer instructions for this payment has been received.
“The remaining one hundred million dollars ($100 million), which is to be voluntarily paid by the other five (5) countries and other sources, will complete the establishment of the entire Fund. We need to do this as quickly as possible.
“We also need to engage on the growing menace to the maritime security of our region. Acts of piracy and maritime destabilization are on rapid increase in the Gulf of Guinea, illustrated by the data, which indicate a forty percent (40%) rise in pirate activities in the Gulf in 2020 over 2019. This calls for a strong regional response.
“On the critical issue of the single currency for the community, we have agreed on a revised convergence policy, about which a report will be presented to us at this meeting. I am of the view that the difficulties involved in meeting the convergence criteria should not stand in the way of the rapid establishment of a payments and settlement system in ECOWAS, which will enable a rapid expansion of trade and investment in the Community. We will receive, at this Summit, a report on progress on this matter.
“Excellencies, achieving strong economic growth, built on resilient economies, is a challenge that we must accept and realise. We must remain focused on the implementation of our programmes and projects in all areas to ensure the well-being of our peoples.