AfCFTA: ‘We Cannot Afford To Fail’ – Akufo-Addo Charges Business Leaders


President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has called on business leaders on the African continent, to as a matter of priority, champion intra-African trade in order to fast-track the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

He made the call when he addressed participants of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues at the session to climax what was dubbed the ‘Kwahu Summit’ on Saturday, 28 January 2023 at Ghana’s presidential retreat centre, Peduase Lodge.

“I would like to urge all of us here to see ourselves as champions of intra-African trade. We in Africa have demonstrated great ambition in setting up the world’s largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1994. I believe that the generation of African leaders led by the distinguished former President of the Republic of Niger, the outstanding AfCFTA champion, Mahamadou Issoufou, who have managed to bring the AfCFTA into being, will occupy a privileged place in the history of our continent as the generation of pioneer leaders who established the organization of our African unity which has now been transformed into the African Union (AU),” President Akufo-Addo said.

“We must now with great zeal and fortitude back this great ambition with our collective action to harness fully the benefits of a liberalized single market for goods and services.

“This must be our solemn and moral obligation to our continent, to our children, and to future generations.
“We cannot afford to fail. As African nations, we must join hands with each other and work diligently to pursue this noble cause,” the President added.

Illicit financial outflows
President Akufo-Addo in his address, raised serious concerns on the issue of illicit outflows of money from the African continent and its obvious negative impact on the peoples of the continent. He called for a concerted effort between African leaders and the business community of the continent to stop the phenomenon.

“We need to pay serious attention to and arrest illicit financial outflows out of the continent, which are estimated at about 88 billion United States dollars annually, depriving Africa of significant resources that could used to support our development agenda,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“We must urgently and collectively institute comprehensive and unambiguous tax policies to combat tax-motivated illicit financial flows, strengthen legal and law enforcement systems, and bring together national agencies to stem such flows.

“We need concrete measures to stop the systemic impoverishment of our continent and the theft of its resources,” he added.

Maiden APD
High Profile African business leaders participated in the maiden edition of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD), an indigenous African initiative aimed at proposing signature policies to ensure the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is fully implemented.

The three-day retreat, which began on Thursday 26 January 2023, and reached a climax on Saturday, 28 January, saw President Akufo-Addo hosting the participants at the presidential retreat, Peduase Lodge, on the Akuapem Mountain.
Among those who attended are Ralph Mupita, Group CEO of Africa’s biggest telecommunication company (MTN); Kenyan billionaire, Julius Mwale, and Ethiopian Airways Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mesfin Tasew Bekele.

The Dialogues
The dialogues began after the Vice President of Ghana, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia and the Secretary General of the AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene performed the opening ceremony with a high-level session on the topic: What will it take to make the AfCFTA work: Critical Policy, Productivity Factors, Legal, Institutional and Political Actions.

The session had Joy Kategekwa, Senior Strategy Advisor, UNDP AFRICA moderating with Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communication and Digitalisation; Mohamed Ali, Director, Trade in Goods and Competition Policy at AfCFTA; Zemedeneh Negatu, Global Chairman, Fairfax African Fund LLC; Dr Kojo Busia, AMV Resources Partners Pty Ltd and Bobby Banson, Founder and Senior Consultant, Robert Smith Law, contributing to the session.

‘Transitioning from Ambition to Action: Addressing Infrastructural, Food and Energy Deficit’ was the second key focus area for the second session. Inadequate infrastructure, which continues to be a major impediment to Africa achieving its full economic growth potential, was the main subject for discussion by the panel.

Dr Stephen Karingi, Director, Trade Policy Division, UNECA, was the lead presenter for the session. Seth Twum Akwaboah, of the Association of Ghana Industries; Bruno Jean Richard ITOUA, Minister for Hydrocarbons of the Republic of Congo; Abel Alemu, Managing Director for Ethiopian Cargo & Logistics Services, were part of the panel.

Other panel members were Chidochashe Nicolette Ncube of the Investment and Development Agency, Zimbabwe; Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, Secretary General COMESA and Kadri Lomo, Executive Stratcom & Trading Limited Energy and Trading.

The third session of day one of the dialogues focused on ‘Leveraging finance, technology and innovation.’ The need for sufficient financial instruments and investment to facilitate the supply chain processes, as a catalyst for trade transactions between importers and exporters to preserve trade balance, was the main focus of this session.
Moderated by Gayheart Mensah, Board Member of APN, the session had Michael Ogbalu, Managing Director of the Pan-African Payments and Settlements System, as the lead presenter.

Panelists included Ms. Emily Mburu-Ndoria, Director of Trade in Services, Investment, Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Trade, AfCFTA; Corine Mbiaketcha, Head of Financial Capital at AfCFTA; Moses Baiden Jnr, CEO and Executive Chairman, Margins ID Group.

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