The Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GITFiC) has officially launched the University of Ghana chapter of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Club to help propagate the concept and the benefits of the AfCFTA.
The Club is under the patronage of Dr Seidu Mahama Alidu, a Senior Lecturer and Head of the Political Science Department and Dr Rosina Foli, also a Senior Lecturer of the same Department of the University of Ghana.
The Launch was on the theme: “Revitalizing the African Higher Education System in the Successful Implementation of the AfCFTA.”
Mr Tsonam Akpeloo, the Greater Accra Chairman of the Association of Ghana Industries, in a speech said the continental free agreement had come to revolutionized Africa and asked the students to take advantage of it.
He said: “Young students who are 18, 19 years at the universities in other countries are producing and making enough money to take care of their education. My young friends what are you doing? Are you sleeping and waking up and talking politics?
“Please no longer about talk; is about conceptualizing an idea and implementing it while you are a student because after school, life gets very rough. I am recommending to you that the continental free trade agreement, which has clear mechanism is something we should take advantage of,” Mr Akpeloo said.
He advised the youth to use their phones for profitable things by creating business contacts, saying; “The phone you have in your hand is the most powerful tool in the 21st century because it is the same phones that the guys in China are using to make money.
“So, as students in higher education just focus on something that will bring you not only money, but capabilities that will lead to a brighter future. So, my brothers the ball is in your court,” he stated.
Professor Rosina Kyerematen, the Dean of Students Affairs of the University of Ghana said Africa was far behind in setting up the AfCFTA, but added that “It is better late than never. We can run and catch up with the industrialized countries”
She noted; “Africa is the biggest trading bloc with 55 by way of population and the number of countries – the Asians have only countries, NAFTA only three countries, the European Union 27 countries, but we have 55 countries.
“And it is not just the 55 countries that have nothing. Africa is actually the richest when it comes to all the blocs in terms of resources.”
Prof Kyerematen called on academics to come together and think about what they could do to push the agenda of the AfCFTA forward by providing training to researchers, human resource persons, industrialists, negotiators, and scientists.
Mr Selasi Koffi Ackom, the Chief Executive Officer of GITFiC said the objective of forming AfCTFA Clubs in the tertiary institutions was for student bodies and academics to be in sync with the issues of the continental free trade agreement.
“Academic has been missing in all of this intellectual discussion across the continent. And so, the student bodies play critical roles in terms of sensitization, education, and information.
He noted that about 400,000 people apply each to enter into the University of Ghana alone and the institution is only able to do five to 10 per of the number, saying that; “So, the issue of churning out graduates has been the bane of the day as we always see over the last 30, 40, 50 years in our higher academic level.”
“And so now that there is a continental programme like the AfCTFA, that is sensitizing and bringing to terms the need and the fact that we have to trade among ourselves in Africa, the student population and academic would have part of this conversation,” he stated.
He said the Clubs were meant to keep the students informed and put before them the opportunities to have internship across board when they graduate or even when they were in school.