The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is a development instrument that offers the perfect platforms for businesses to tap into available opportunities in a single market for goods and services in Africa. The agreement aims to bring together 1.3 billion people into a single market worth $3.4 trillion, making it the largest free trade area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization in terms of the number of countries participating. Small and medium size enterprises are key to AfCFTA in Africa as they account for about 90 percent of the region’s businesses.
However, the Ghana COVID-19 Agribusiness Tracker and the COVID-19 Business Tracker, released by the Ghana Statistical Service, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the GIZ and the World Bank respectively, revealed a low awareness level of the AfCFTA amongst agribusinesses, with only one in four businesses knowing about the AfCFTA.
Addressing this gap, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the Ministry of Trade, engaged selected Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDA’s) in Ghana to facilitate the participation of local economies in the AfCFTA.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Frederick Mugisha, Economic Advisor at UNDP noted that the AfCFTA provides enormous prospects to reduce poverty and inequality through sustainable structural transformation. He called for more investment in the local economies especially at the District and Municipal Assembly levels to create more efficient regional value chains to enhance competitiveness in the African Market.
“The future of AfCFTA is local and calls for more investment for the opportunities to be fully leveraged. This means adding more value to products and repositioning to compete and penetrate the African market”, he emphasized.
Similarly, the Director-General of NDPC, Dr Kojo Essiem Mensah Abrampa, indicated that effective implementation of AfCFTA requires bringing it to the local space to the people. He noted that it is significant to bring the AfCFTA to the local government level and integrate local economies into the regional market.
“This is the time for all districts to leverage on their competitive advantage in order to stay relevant. As manufacturers, we must relook at the goods we produce and enhance them to compete with the global brands”, he added.
Realizing the opportunities AfCFTA has to offer, key actors and players at the MMDA’s presented some of their ongoing initiatives and prospects for investments. These include initiatives like boosting the tourism industry in Kumasi and opportunities in the agriculture sector such as shea nut production and processing, coconut oil production and vegetable farming in the Sagnarigu and the Ketu South. Participants pledged to reposition their products to advance the AfCFTA opportunities in their assemblies.
The event gathered over 100 participants including local government officials, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), local leaders, youth, and women.