The first of the regional conferences on the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and the National Export Development Strategy was yesterday held in the Ashanti Regional capital of Kumasi.
Ashanti Regional Minister Mr Simon Osei-Mensah, opened the event at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Adum, with the Nana Dr. Baffour Ossei Hyeaman Brantuo VI, Mawerehene of Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, as the Guest Speaker.
Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, gave the keynote address on the conference theme: “Empowering Ghanaian Businesses to harness the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement under the framework of the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS)”.
The regional conferences are to sensitise relevant stakeholders from the private and public sectors, especially Ghanaian businesses in the various regions, about export development interventions aimed at empowering the private sector.
A statement issued by the Public Relations Department of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority in Accra, on Monday, said all the 15 regional conferences would be held in November.
This followed the National Conference, it said, held at the Accra International Conference Centre on the 20 and 21 October 2020, which was opened by President Akufo-Addo, with Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the AfCFTA, as the Special Guest.
The events are being organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) and the National AfCFTA Coordination Office.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ghana Standards Authority, Food & Drugs Authority, Ghana Eximbank and the Ghana Revenue Authority – Customs, are the supporting institutions, while the Stanbic Bank is the sponsor.
“The regional events are intended to be a lot more interactive with the aim of engaging the private sector to enable them to appreciate existing opportunities within the newly launched National Export Development Strategy, and how they can effectively access opportunities within the AfCFTA,” the statement said.
It said representatives from the Exporter Community, Private Business Owners, Senior Public Service Officials, Private Sector Representatives in the Regions, Development Partners and the Media were expected to actively participate in the regional discussions.
“The month of November has been dedicated to these roadshows to ensure that business communities in all 16 regions appreciate the relevance and impact of AfCFTA on their businesses and how the National Export Development Strategy is positioned to empower the private sector access the African market through interventions in export.
“The AfCFTA/NEDS sensitisation train is expected to stop-over in all the other 15 regions, following the National Conference in Accra, as trading under the AfCFTA is scheduled to begin on January 1st, 2021.
“Watch out for when the Regional Conference makes a stop in your region,” the statement said.
The first National Conference on AfCFTA was organised by Government in August 2019, followed by the second in October 2020, where the National Export Development Strategy was launched.