President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has pledged Ghana’s commitment to the success of the Continent’s Common Market Agreement, urging other African heads to demonstrate political will to make the African Union (AU) an economic and political success.
He made the pledge at the AU’s Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union on Wednesday in Kigali, Rwanda, where 44 member states signed onto an agreement to set up a massive free-trade area to improve regional integration and boost economic growth.
With the signing in Kigali of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), and the formal launch of the Agreement, President Akufo-Addo said it was time to scale up the momentum of the Continent’s integration agenda to give boost to Africa’s Common Market process. He said the process “presents immense opportunities to bring prosperity to the Continent with hard work, enterprise and creativity.”
With the CFAT described as the largest free trade area created since the formation of the World Trade Organisation, President Akufo-Addo noted that the coming into being of the CFTA was one of the most important decisions the African Union would ever take.
“Fifty five years ago, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was formed to spearhead the struggle for liberation and de-colonisation of our Continent. Its triumph ushered us into the era of the African Union (AU), our continental body, which is now the champion of our collective interests in the global community,” he said.
“The time is now right that we demonstrate strong political will to make the African Union an economic and political success, and to make the project of integration real,” he said and assured of Ghana’s readiness to host the CFTA Secretariat in Accra.
“A working, common continental market has to be a very fundamental objective of all peoples and governments on the Continent. Research has shown that countries or groups of countries with the largest share of world trade are located within regions with the highest levels of intra-regional trade. It is, thus, vital that the treaty works, and that the Continental Free Trade Area becomes reality,” he said.
The President explained that an increase in trade was the surest way to develop fruitful relations between African countries.“An increase in trade is the surest way to develop fruitful relations between our respective countries… It will mean a rapid increase in exchanges of our agricultural, financial, industrial, scientific and technological products, which would enhance dramatically our attainment of prosperity, and the prospects of employment for the broad masses of Africans, particularly our youth,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo appended his signature to the three legal instruments namely; the Agreement establishing the Continental Free Trade Area; the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons; and the Kigali Declaration, which have brought the CFTA into being.
The CFTA Agreement would have to be ratified by individual countries.