Implementation of AfCFTA -Former deputy minister demands action from business associations

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
Mr-Robert Ahomka Lindsay — Former Deputy Minister of Industry

A Former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Robert Ahomka Lindsay, is demanding some action from business associations in the country to make the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement a success.

He said if the agreement would benefit the country, then private sector associations such as the Private Sector Federation (PEF) and the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) must be the ones pushing it and not the government.

“All these activities will lead to zero if the PEF don’t take action. We will get nowhere if we live everything to the government.The government is not the one producing the products for export or providing the services.

“It is important for us to ensure that private sector representations are the ones pushing to ensure that what is being done meets your requirements,” he stated.

Mr Ahomka Lindsay said this at a private sector working group meeting on the AfCFTA. The meeting was organised by the PEF.

He commended the PEF for having an AfCFTA and urged all other business associations to do same.

The former deputy minister also called for the need to now focus on the details of the agreement.

“We need to move the discussion to details. How do I export products and what do I have to do? These are the kind of discussions we should be having. You need to advise your teams on what they need to export.

“Ghana is very good at trading but we don’t do very well when it comes to formal trading and that is where the challenge is. The agreement has been signed and its effective now so it is important that we get to the details on products.

“Every one of them should have a plan. The secretariat is right here in Ghana and we should be packed there. People are sending different delegations from other countries there, ours is just here and no association has been there so far.

“We have to be strategic, otherwise, this thing will pass us by and we will wonder what happened,” he advised.

Objective of AfCFTA

He said the objective of the agreement was that, within 10 years, 90 per cent of all the goods will be traded duty free.

“Every country can decide what they want to do in the 10 years. Ghana has done five per cent but not everybody has done the same thing. It is critical for us to pay attention to details. Every country has to lodge what products they want to be trading in so if I want to export to Kenya, I need to go and see what Kenya has lodged with the AfCFTA on what they will do in the next 10 years,” he explained.

He said, “it is critical that we know all of these so that we do not make business decisions that will hurt us.

Affordable pricing

The Chief Executive Officer of the PEF, Nana Osei Bonsu, for his part, said affordable pricing was very necessary to enable the country take full advantage of the agreement.

He said the federation had been working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to try and create energy smart options such as solar and wind energy for the manufacturing sector.

He said this would help reduce cost of energy by 40 per cent which would in turn also reduce prices of manufactured products.

“This will allow them to go and compete with other products,” he stated.

Two-year project

He said the PEF, together with its member associations and with funding support from the Open Society of West Africa (OSIWA) is implementing a two-year project which seeks to take steps to keep constituent businesses and the general business community informed and prepared to take advantage of the opportunities thereof, mitigate risks and threats, present policy options to duty bearers based on evidence, enhance jobs creation and economic growth.

He said the federation, through this project was seeking to enhance the understanding and capacity of the domestic MSMEs on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“We want to assist the businesses, identify the potential impact of the AFCFTA on their businesses and strategically position them to fully participate in this immense continental business opportunity,” he noted.