Ghana has been chosen to host the Secretariat for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA), beating off competition from six other contenders including e-Swatini, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Senegal and Madagascar.
The official announcement of Ghana’s selection is expected to be made at the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Niamey, Niger.
The summit will launch the operational phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area after achieving maturity on May 30, 2019, when the 22-Member State deposited its instrument of ratification at the Africa Union Commission headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Vice President Bawumia said this at a Presidential Gala for the official closing ceremony of a four-day Ghana Diaspora celebration and Homecoming Summit on Saturday.
The summit formed part of the Government’s strategy to harness the expertise of human and financial resources of Ghanaians living in the Diaspora towards investments and accelerate national development.
A 10-member delegation from the Africa Union (AU), led by Ambassador Rosette Katungye, AU Advisor on Regional Integration, arrived in Accra on May 13, and spent seven days to assess Ghana’s preparedness and facilities towards hosting the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA).
The ACFTA is to create continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Continental Customs Union and the African customs union.
The 18th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012, adopted a decision to establish a ACFTA by a tentative date of 2017.
The ACFTA will bring together 54 African nations with a combined population of more than one billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of more than US$3.4 trillion.
Dr Bawumia gave the assurance that government would continue to engage with Diasporans, draw synergies and tap into their wealth of knowledge and expertise.
He said 60 of President Akufo-Addo’s appointees were Ghanaian Diasporans because he believed in their competences and hard work, noting that the commercial discovery of crude oil in Ghana was made possible through Dr Kwame Bawia Adusei and George Yaw Owusu, who were all Ghanaians based in the United States.
He said the establishment of the Diaspora Office at the Presidency was intended to ensure effective collaboration between government and the Diasporan Community.
This, he said, would facilitate understanding of government policies and programmes and create a feedback loop that would enable Ghanaians abroad, to bring their expertise on-board to help build a better economy.
Dr Bawumia said a Dual Citizenship Bill has been placed before Parliament and its passage would enable Ghanaians holding dual citizenship to hold public office in Ghana and urged all Diasporans to engage the Diaspora Office for clarification and inputs.
Touching on some successes chalked by Akufo-Addo’s government, he said, Ghana was one of the fastest economies in the world, with more than six per cent growth coupled with stable macro-economy and human-centred policies and interventions to better the lot of the people.
He also mentioned the medical drone delivery, property addressing system, and paperless ports system, as well as the digitisation of the business registration, driver’s application and licensing, mobile money interoperability system and automation of services, to improve how the public sector conducted its activities.
He said government would turn its attention towards infrastructural development this year and urged the Ghanaians in Diaspora to bring their expertise and investments towards that direction.
(By Godwill Arthur-Mensah)