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.
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.
The first commercial deal under the AfCFTA is expected to take place on January 1, 2021 as outstanding discussions will take place online. Disruptions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic forced a delay of the implementation of the agreement initially set for the beginning of July.
The AU maintains that the AfCFTA will offer Africa an opportunity to reconfigure its supply chains, 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.