The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has organised a one day forum in the Savannah Region on Friday, 18th August, 2023, to launch and create awareness about the National AfCFTA Policy Framework and Ghana’s implementation of the AfCFTA.

Alhaji Yakubu Yussif, a Senior Advisor incharge of Monitoring and Evaluation at the National AfCFTA Coordination Office in an address stated that
the National AfCFTA Coordination Office is collaborating with key stakeholder institutions including the Ministry of Information, Ghana Revenue Authority -Customs Division, Ghana EXIM Bank, Fodd and Deugs Board, Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), (FDA), Plant Protection And Regulatory Services Directorate (PPRSD), Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) and other key implementing agencies of the AfCFTA, to embark on a nationwide regional stakeholder engagement programme which is intended to apprise stakeholders across the country of the policy framework for implementation of AfCFTA in Ghana.

He stated further that the engagement seeks to also provide an opportunity for stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of the AfCFTA and its accompanying the modalities for trading.

Stating the objectives of the regional engagements, Alhaji Yakubu indicated that the forum will seeks to create Awareness on the National AfCFTA Policy Framework and Action Plan for Boosting Ghana’s Trade with Africa at the regional level, inform stakeholders and the business community and also sensitize the Ghanaian business community on the AfCFTA and the opportunities it offers.

He said the engagement seeks to also identify local companies that have the capacity to trade under the AfCFTA, to be supported under the National AfCFTA Coordinating Office Market Expansion Project.

According to Alhaji Yakubu Yussif, AfCFTA has become the world’s largest Free Trade Area with member states of 54 with the objective to facilitate free movement of goods, people, and investments, marking a significant development since the establishment of the Organization of African Unity in 1963.

He explained that the AfCFTA agreement became effective on May 30th, 2019, once 22 countries had submitted their ratification documents to the African Union Commission (AUC). The initial deposit of ratification instruments came from Ghana and Kenya.

Mr. Divine Kutorste, the program officer responsible for enterprise support in an address mentioned that harnessing the benefits of AfCFTA requires intentional effort, despite Ghana’s role as the headquarters of the secretariat and by setting a leading example, Ghana has initiated the Market Expansion Project which is aimed to evaluate the export readiness of select Ghanaian companies, enabling them to make the most of AfCFTA’s opportunities, endeavored and designed to extend beyond its current scope seeking to include more enterprises over time.

Mr Divine further revealed that their collaboration with nearly 300 audited companies who are assessing their export and market readiness for AfCFTA have received comprehensive support, encompassing financial assistance, capacity building, and access to necessary equipment.

He added that their collaboration extends across various ministries, as AfCFTA’s intricate nature necessitates a coordinated approach, connecting businesses with the pertinent agencies for the required support.

Highlighting the importance of the Market Expedition Program, Mr. Divine underlined AfCFTA’s role in providing market access and empowered companies to explore new markets and expand their reach.

He Noted that, 63 companies participated in an exhibition in Kenya, marking the first step to entering the Kenyan market with plans to expand to Tanzania, Cameroon, Egypt, and other African nations.

The Savannah Regional Minister Saeed Muhazu Jibril addressing the participants indicated that AfCFTA is a great initiative which is capable of changing the whole landscape of trade and prosperity for Ghana and Africa adding that beyond the establishment of AfCFTA, the policy framework and Action Plan have been developed for it’s implementation, an indication of how serious the government of Ghana has taken the programme.

He used the opportunity to appeal to stakeholders in the savannah region take advantage of the initiative which other regions and countries are taking advantage of.

The Savannah Regional Minister also used the event to encourage small and medium scale enterprises to harness the potentials to inch up into Agro processing and value addition not only for domestic consumption, but also to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Africa continental free trade Area to export to other African countries and quota free Ecowas regions.