Mr Lawrence Osei-Boateng, the Director of Business Development and Research at the Ghana Free Zones Authority, has emphasized the importance of cooperation among member states for the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He noted that while the AfCFTA aims to promote the free trade of goods and services, some countries have adopted internal protection policies that hinder the free flow of trade.
He mentioned that it takes only three days to certify cement from other African countries, whereas it takes 28 days to do the same in Ivory Coast, causing frustration among importers. Furthermore, he expressed concern that other West African countries are refusing goods from other nations, which disrupts the roadmap established when AfCFTA was launched.
Mr Osei-Boateng called upon African leaders to engage in extensive deliberations to address these issues and overcome overprotection, which could undermine the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.
He emphasized the need for collective action against the influx of poor-quality goods from other continents, as this could hinder the efforts to establish a common currency that would enhance intra-African trade.
Additionally, he suggested that African countries create accessible markets both within and outside the continent to facilitate business expansion.
In Ghana, companies are considered Free Zone Companies if they export approximately 70% or more of their goods. Mr Osei-Boateng urged Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to employ skilled labour to maintain high standards.
He also emphasized the importance of adhering to international standards for SMEs to expand beyond the continent in terms of exporting their products.
Mr Nashikaku, who spoke on trade and healthy investment at the conference, stressed the significance of investing in raw materials to increase income instead of exporting them in their raw state. He praised GITFiC for bringing together key industry players to discuss trade and industry matters, as it serves as a catalyst for regional integration.
Mr Selasi Koffi Ackom, CEO of GITFiC, announced that at the end of the conference, a consensus was reached on a single currency, which is expected to boost trade and industrialization. The conference covered various topics, including prospects for Africa‘s single currency, actualizing Africa's industrialization agenda in the era of AfCFTA from the ECOWAS perspective, and sovereign economic vulnerabilities.
The event featured panel discussions, consultations, and engagements with the media on crucial issues in the African continent. It attracted participants from at least 10 African countries.