By Bakary Ceesay
The Republic of Ghana is seeking the support of The Gambia in its bid to play host to the headquarters of the continental free trade zone in Accra.
Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has sent his Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Alan Kyerematen, as a special envoy to President Adama Barrow to deliver a special message in this regard.
52 of the 55 members of the African Union have already signed the Continental Free Trade Agreement, which is geared towards empowering the AU members to take advantage of a single market. It will bring together 1.2billion people with a combined GDP of $3thrillion. The African leaders are optimistic that this is going to be a very powerful stimulus to attract investment into the continent.
“We are here to present a special message to President Adama Barrow requesting his kind support and that of the people of The Gambia towards Ghana’s bid to host the headquarters of this body,” Minister Kyerematen told the waiting press corps after emerging from a closed door meeting with the Gambian leader.
The African Union has asked member states that are interested in hosting the CfTA headquarters to submit their bids. Ghana is one of seven countries that has offered to host it.
President Barrow told the envoy that there could not have been a better time for such a monumental opportunity for the continent than now, when it has overcome most of its challenges in terms of peace and security. “All the leaders in Africa are speaking with one voice. It is about democracy, economic development and growth, reducing poverty… you can only deal with these matters if you are able to support each other,” he said.
The Ghanaian envoy said all major economies of the world have developed because they have come together in their regional blocs. “The market of Africa is where everyone wants to be. The whole world is targeting the African market, so we (within ourselves) have to take advantage of this market first. That’s what this AfCFT is about,” he added.
He said the greatest testimony from the continent in supporting this free trade agenda is the number of countries that have signed the agreement. Beside the 52 member signatories, 24 have also ratified it, meaning the people have supported it through their parliaments.
“In my humble opinion, there can be no better testimony than we all uniting behind this. Let’s remember that the free trade between African countries have been a dream for many years,” he maintained.