The 2023 Annual New Year School and Conference has urged educational institutions to develop their curricula as commodities to harness opportunities under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
As part of its recommendations, the Conference also urged the AfCFTA Secretariat to collaborate with educational institutions to promote research on trade in Africa, regional value chains, and market information.
Dr Simon-Peter Kafui Aheto, Director, 74th Annual New Year School and Conference, who presented the communiqué at the end of the programme, urged the AFCFTA Secretariat to engage with academia and industry leaders to develop apprenticeship and internship programmes for the practical training of tertiary graduates.
This year’s Conference, which started from January 16 and ended on January 19, was on the theme: ” Positioning the African Market for Sustainable Economic Development Through AfCFTA”.
It was organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, University of Ghana, Legon.
The Conference urged the AfCFTA Secretariat to work closely with the various stakeholders in the telecommunication sector to ensure effective communication for trade facilitation.
Also, active phone applications embedded with supplier and buyer information should be developed to provide a database for planning and effective engagement within the AfCFTA ecosystem.
The Conference also recommended a concerted effort by AfCFTA member countries to lower data charges to facilitate trade across the continent.
“To make AfCFTA a safe and attractive space for trade within the region, the AfCFTA National Coordination Office (NCO) should partner with financial and technology companies in the region to develop user-friendly and efficient payment systems,” the communique said.
That, the Conference said, could be achieved by harmonising and leveraging digital financial services interoperability to make payments inclusive.
The Conference urged the AfCFTA NCO to work with the National Communication Authority to invest in and build robust cyber security systems to ensure data protection and safeguard payment platforms used under AfCFTA.
“The government and AfCFTA should work together to promote the work of women entrepreneurs to improve intra-African trade through the creation of development banks and other special-purpose financial facilities to enhance women’s access to capital at low-interest rates,” it added.
The Conference urged the National AfCFTA coordination office, in collaboration with the Information Services Department and the National Commission for Civic Education, to engage with businesswomen at the community levels to create awareness on AfCFTA trade areas.
That, the Conference said would promote inclusivity and enhance access to trade information for women-led businesses.
The communique recommended to institutions such as the Food and Drugs Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency to digitise their processes to ensure smooth acquisition of licenses.
“The AfCFTA secretariat is encouraged to go out to the communities to sensitise the women entrepreneurs about AfCFTA’s existence and the policy framework, and also enhance their technical capacities to produce the right products and services that meet the standards of the AfCFTA market.”
The Conference urged the Government to create a conducive environment to aid Ghanaians in the diaspora in identifying local opportunities for investments, technology transfer, and other specialised skills in support of AfCFTA’s agenda.