South African President and African Union chairman Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday expressed his “profound gratitude” to Ghana for generously offering a building to host the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in the capital Accra.In a message to AfCFTA secretary general Wamkele Mene, Ramaphosa said it was “a fitting tribute that the AfCFTA headquarters are being housed in Ghana.”
“This is a milestone and a strong affirmation of the vision of an integrated Africa envisioned the Organisation of African Union’s founding fathers, including Ghana’s Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah, 57 years ago.”
Mene is the first secretary general of the AfCFTA, elected in February 2020 with a mandate to administer the free trade agreement.
Ramaphosa gave Mene his support during the handover ceremony of the AfCFTA Secretariat building in Accra to the African Union Commission (AUC).
He assured Mene of the AU’s commitment to the successful implementation of the AfCFTA, as a practical contribution to the economic development of Africa.
He acknowledged the challenges that exist in the negotiations, particularly around the issue of the rules of origin and trade offers, as well as trade in services.
“We are confident that through your (Mene) leadership and the determination of the AU member states, all bracketed issues should be resolved,” Ramaphosa said.
AU member states selected Ghana to host the AfCFTA secretariat during the continental body’s 12th extraordinary summit held in Niamey, Niger in July 2019.
The AfCFTA agreement creates a single market for AU Member States, with a combined population of over one billion and a total gross domestic product of about US$3.4 trillion.