Secretary-General of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Wamkele Mene is optimistic that the challenges Africa faces can be be turned into opportunities.
He made this statement at the maiden edition of the Africa Prosperity Dialogue (APD) in Ghana where African leaders, ambassadors, entrepreneurs, directors of businesses, policy makers, and private sector leaders gathered to share ideas on the prosperity of the African continent. He believes the gathering presented the perfect opportunity to write a positive narrative on the challenges Africans face on the continent.
“It is really an honour for us to be part of this dialogue because we have an opportunity, an opportunity as Africans to write a positive narrative if the challenges we confront. Indeed I believe that Africa’s challenges are Africa’s opportunities”.
Mr. Mene pointed out to the period of the Covid-19 pandemic and how the AfCFTA has spearheaded initiatives to mitigate the effects of any such pandemic in the future, as an example of how the AfCFTA has taken advantage of challenges to create opportunities.
“As you all know, Africa suffered during this pandemic. As the rest of the world was developing and rolling out vaccines, the African continent was at the back of the queue, unable to provide vaccines to safe lives”, he said.
He added that “through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, a protocol on international property rights we intend to establish a legal framework that will enable faster, easier and more efficient access to much needed pharmaceutical products, including vaccines”.
The Secretary-General of the AfCFTA maintains that the challenge with the programme is ‘the transition from mission to action’.
“If I may point to how we have already started this transition from mission to action in the past two years. Rwanda, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa have already started the vaccine manufacturing value-chain which will be spread across these countries on the basis of a legal framework on the basis AfCFTA”.
From the pandemic, it has been evident that when the global supply-chain is affected, Africa suffers for the lack of industrial capacity on the continent. We have also learnt that through innovation, intellectual property rights and Vaccine manufacturing amongst others, that we can create jobs, contribute to the Africa’s industrialisation and most importantly handle Africa’s public needs”, Mr. Wene added.