Thomas Mbomba (right), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, and  Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of AfCFTA, interacting at the event. Picture: EBOW HANSON

60th AU anniversary commemorated

The 60th anniversary celebration of the AU has been commemorated to recognise the vision and successes achieved towards an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.

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The event which was on the theme: “Accelerated implementation of the AfCFTA,” was also in remembrance of the founder members of the AU whose dream was to strive for a united Africa while eschewing any form of (neo)colonialism.

“Today, we are beneficiaries of the sacrifices our independence fighters made to ensure the total liberation of the continent, and we should not take that for granted as a people,” a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Thomas Mbomba, said at the event in Accra yesterday.

It was organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in collaboration with the AU and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat.

There was also raising of flags and a food bazaar as part of activities to mark the day.

In attendance were members of the African group of the diplomatic corps, schoolchildren, senior officers of the Ghana Armed Forces and other security services.

Economic development

After 60 years of building the foundation for a united Africa, Mr Mbomba said it was critical to harness the opportunities under AfCFTA for sustainable development, adding that the continental trade regime had the potential to transform the economic landscape of the continent and strengthen its position in the global market.

“To this end, it is imperative that we expedite action on the implementation of the various arrangements and protocols to ensure citizens of Africa, individuals and groups, benefit fully,” he added.  

The Secretary-General of AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene, also said that there were still some outstanding negotiations on key operational instruments of rules of origin and schedules of concessions and commitments that would ensure more effective trading under the AfCFTA.

Also ongoing, he said, were negotiations on protocols on digital trade and women and youth in trade.

Mr Mene, therefore, urged member countries and other stakeholders to get involved in the actualisation of the aspirations of the continental free trade agreement to help reignite industrialisation to pave the way for the meaningful integration of Africa.

“A more recent study by the World Bank estimates that with full implementation of AfCFTA, the continent could gain additional income of nine per cent or $571 billion and up to 50 million people could be lifted out of extreme poverty by 2035,” he said.

Commendation

The Dean of the African Group (the group of African Ambassadors to Ghana), who is also the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco, Imane Ouaadil, commended Ghana for hosting the AfCFTA Secretariat and for being among the first countries to trade goods under the preferential rules of AfCFTA.

According to her, the implementation of the agreement was gathering momentum and improving intra-African trade across the continent, adding that the arrangement would further provide more opportunities for pandemic recovery and growth.

Food bazaar

As part of the celebration, there was a food bazaar where an array of African cuisine were displayed.

The sight and aroma of the various foods attracted the attention of the guests who sampled some of the continent’s most popular dishes such as Attiéké from Cote d’Ivoire, the Algerian mint tea (Atay Djazairi), and eba and banku eaten across West Africa.

The different foods and taste demonstrated the unity and diversity of the people and the march towards the political and economic integration of the continent.

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