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Acquire AfCFTA number to do business with secretariat - Ursula Owusu-Ekuful urges firms

BY: Augustina Tawiah
Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira (right), Rwandan High Commissioner to Ghana, interacting with Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, and Herbert Krapa (middle), a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, after the launch of the AfCFTA Hub Ghana programme in Accra. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Dr Aisa Kirabo Kacyira (right), Rwandan High Commissioner to Ghana, interacting with Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, and Herbert Krapa (middle), a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, after the launch of the AfCFTA Hub Ghana programme in Accra. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR

Individuals and firms are required to obtain an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) number to be able to do business with the secretariat.

Similarly, mega platforms, such as Uber, Glovo, Bolt, Jumia, Tonaton, Yango and Amazon, are to ensure that all businesses registered on their platforms secure their AfCFTA numbers to integrate their transaction processing systems with an AfCFTA Hub.

This will enable businesses to verify and validate their regulatory and compliance status to increase trust in the marketplace, boost uptake of digital services, suppress fraud and improve the efficiency of doing business in the country and beyond.

The Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, announced this at the launch of the AfCFTA Hub Ghana at a stakeholders’ forum in Accra yesterday[August 30, 2022].

About the number

An AfCFTA number is a unique code per entity model designed to lead a trusted business directory of economic actors that build social credit by maintaining compliance with the necessary regulatory criteria for doing business.

It is a trusted business identifi er for small and medium enterprises (SMES), start-ups and other economic actors.

Together with the AfCFTA common transactions reference framework, the number is one of the various modules of the secretariat’s hub project in the country.

The hub project seeks to digitalise collaboration among key national and regional actors to accelerate the implementation of AfCFTA.

At the heart of the hub system is the number.

The launch of the hub and the number mechanisms in the country is expected to suppress fraud in e-commerce and digital trading by simplifying background checks on e-traders and other businesses that offer services online.

It will also provide a ready-made platform for different operators, such as traders, buyers and logistics providers, to interact and do business, not just in the country but also across the sub-region.

Unified platform

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, who launched the system, directed that the various regulatory functions of reporting, complaints management, penalties and fi ne management, licensing, certification and the like should be conducted electronically on the hub.

She said with the number widely adopted and regulatory certification taking place on a unified platform, the process of validating the background of any commercial counter-party would become highly automated, quick and hassle-free.

“Together with the AfCFTA Common Transaction ID, the number will also serve critical anti-fraud and crime-fighting purposes domestically and regionally,” the minister added.

She further urged the National Communications Authority, the Ghana Chamber of Telecoms, the Ghana ISP Association and related bodies to speed up the roll out of the AfCFTA Hub across all telecom networks as a common anti-fraud engine, business directory service and AfCFTA implementation accelerator.

“We see examples of such cross-platform connectivity currently in India, where the open network for digital commerce is accelerating the uptake of e-commerce by eliminating gaps and conflicts among providers.

“We see similar developments in Estonia, Turkey and Dubai. We intend to become global pacesetters in how government, working together with inter-governmental authorities such as the AfCFTA Secretariat and the private sector, can roll out smart networks that deliver benefits to consumers, businesses, agencies and other critical actors,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful added.

Importance

The Principal Communications Advisor at the AfCFTA Secretariat, Grace Khoza, stressed the importance of digitalisation to development, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic had shown how digital trade can accelerate the growth of Africa.

For his part, the Coordinator of the National AfCFTA Coordinating Office, Dr Fareed Arthur, called on African countries to share information on trade, saying it was easier to fi nd out what was happening on the Chinese, American or Asian markets than fi nd out what was happening on the continent.

Other speakers included a Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Herbert Krapa; the 1Secretary to the Vice-President, Dr Augustine Blay, and a representative of the Association of Ghana Industries