Niamey - The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat will be hosted in Ghana after the African heads of state made the final decision last week at the AU Extraordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger.
Seven African member states, including two Southern African Development Community (SADC) members, Eswatini and Madagascar, were eager to host the milestone AfCFTA Secretariat. The others were Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ghana, and Senegal.
An African Union assessment mission was sent to these countries to assess the ability of these countries to host the world’s largest continental free trade area office. After so much consideration, a report was made and the assessment team recommended that Ghana hosts the office.
At the AU heads of state and government summit in Niger, last week, the heads of state endorsed the recommendations for Ghana to host the AfCFTA.
Despite some member states complaining that the assessment was done in a hurry, only last month, to meet the extraordinary deadline summit, the final decision was made and Ghana will host the African Union’s most vital office to date.
SADC had two members, Eswatini and Madagascar competing to host this office and despite the public endorsement of the former by the regional body, none of the two member states charmed the assessment mission.
Before the host announcement, The Southern Times was reliably informed that the US$10 million pledged by the Ghanaian government towards the construction of the AfCFTA Secretariat office charmed the assessors.
It means the activities for the creation of a single 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, will be coordinated from the AfCFTA office in Ghana
Announcing the results, Chairman of the African Union and Egypt president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, said Ghana deserved to host the office and urged the continent to really put in the work after the host was chosen.
“I congratulate Ghana as the host for the AfCFTA secretariat office. We have a lot of work to do. Starting at national level, regional level and continental level. We must speed up the infrastructure development process in order to achieve our AfCFTA dream,” he said.
It is the first time in history that Ghana is hosting a pan-African office despite the country being regarded as one of the first nations to give birth to the idea of pan-Africanism.
The Secretariat will be responsible for coordinating the implementation of the agreement and shall be an autonomous body within the AU system. Though it will have independent legal personality, it shall work closely with the AU Commission and receive its budget from the AU.
Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo confirmed that his country will donate US$10 million to the African Union for the office construction.
“It is a privilege that, for the first time in our nation’s history, we have the responsibility of hosting an important pan-African institution. I have set up an inter-Ministerial Committee of my government to work with the AU Commission towards this end,” he said.
He added that he would do anything within his power to help Ghana deliver a world-class institution for all African people.