President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says a very important plank of the new strategic partnership between Africa, Spain and Europe will be the strong support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which began trading on January 1, 2021.
Speaking at the “Focus Africa 2023” Conference held in Madrid, in Spain, on Monday, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the AfCFTA will link all the 54 markets of Africa, covering 1.2 billion people, into a single market.
“It is the world’s largest free trade area outside of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) itself. By 2050, it will cover an estimated 2.5 billion people, and have over a quarter of the world’s working age population.
“Imagine the investment and business opportunities offered by the infrastructure required to link our markets more effectively. And imagine the business opportunities that this huge market would offer for manufacturing and services firms from Spain and Europe that could establish production facilities in Africa to serve the African markets”, pointed out.
With the enhanced growth that would result from all these, President Akufo-Addo stressed that “the market opportunities for exporters from Spain and Europe could be truly amazing!”
Reiterating the commitment of African leaders to chart a new path of trade and investment co-operation with the rest of the world, the President explained that, with Africa in possession of a vast endowment of resources, both human and natural, it is disheartening to acknowledge that African youths do not see a future in their respective countries.
He regretted that the youth in Africa are willing to cross the Sahara Desert on foot and drown in the Mediterranean Sea, in a desperate bid to reach the mirage of a better life in Europe.
“It is eloquent testimony to the inability of the current structures of African economies – producing and exporting raw materials, importing manufactured goods and services from Europe and elsewhere – to generate the numbers of decent, well-paying jobs that Africa’s youths crave,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said “the time has come for Africa, Spain, and, indeed, the rest of Europe, to establish a sustainable, strategic partnership based on trade and investment co-operation on the exchange of value-added transactions. It would obviate the resort to aid, which has not achieved its purpose.”
Need for global co-operation
Touching on the pandemic of COVID-19, President Akufo-Addo noted that the need for global co-operation has been accentuated even further by the onset of the virus.
“We need to co-operate more, and we need to co-operate smartly. In the midst of all the complexities of the 21st century, our interdependence requires such co-operation. So, I applaud Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for convening ‘Focus Africa 2023’, and for the brilliance of the Plan Africa III initiative,” he added.
In spite of the havoc wrecked by COVID-19, the President stressed that Government is pursuing accelerated economic development through improved macroeconomic management, improved domestic revenue mobilisation emanating from reforms in public revenue policy and administration, creation of conducive environments for businesses to flourish, tackling corruption and curbing excessive bureaucratic procedures.
“We are ensuring that all our children have unfettered access to education through our Free Senior High School policy, we are moving towards attaining Universal Health Coverage for all Ghanaians through the National Health Insurance Scheme, we are processing more and more of our raw materials through our 1-District-1-Factory initiative, we have become a net exporter of food under our programme for Planting for Food and Jobs, and we are determined to move Ghana to a situation beyond aid,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo told the Spanish Prime Minister that “we have set our sights high, and, to our friends in Spain and Europe, I urge you to join us in building a continent of prosperity and societies of equal opportunities for all”.