AUC swears-in Secretary-General of AfCFTA

By Maxwell Awumah, GNA

Ho, March 26, GNA – Mr Wamkele Mene, the newly elected
Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
Secretariat has been sworn-in Thursday to give him legitimacy to commence
business.

The ceremony took place at the African Union Commission
headquarters in the presence of Dr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the
Commission and Mr Edward Xolisa Makaya, the Permanent Representative of South
Africa to the African Union and Chairperson of the Permanent Representative
Committee (PRC).

The Ceremony was also attended by Mrs. Amma Adoma Twum-Amoah,
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ghana to the AU, representing the
host country of the AfCFTA Secretariat and Mr. Zakario Maiga, Ambassador and
Permanent Representative of Niger, representing the Champion of the AfCFTA
process.

The Secretary-General would provide leadership and technical
support to AfCFTA Secretariat and overall management of the day-to-day
functioning of the Secretariat to ensure it achieves its desired mandate,
according to AUC release copied to the Ghana News Agency.

In particular, Mr Mene would be responsible for the
management of the AfCFTA Secretariat, implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement
and strategic collaboration; stakeholders’ engagement; and resources
mobilisation for the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.

Mr Makaya indicated that “the swearing in of the first
Secretary General of the AfCFTA can only be linked to a day in 1993 when the
late Peter Sutherland was elected as the first Director-General of the World
Trade Organization.”

He added “Mr. Mene is entrusted with a huge responsibility to
lead one of the key institutions of the African Union and to guide Africa to
realize the Aspiration number one of the Agenda 2063 which talks to the
attainment of ‘A prosperous Africa based on inclusive Growth and Sustainable
Development’.”

He emphasised that the swearing of the SG of the AfCFTA was a
milestone in the journey to integrate the continent and an affirmation of Africa’s
resolve to advance towards the realisation of the objectives of the Abuja
Treaty.”

“We put the AfCFTA Secretariat in very capable hands under
Secretary General Mene, we are assured of effective implementation of the
AfCFTA Agreement,” said H.E. Amb. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Trade and
Industry.

Dr. Mahamat congratulated the SG on his election and
underscored the challenges ahead: “I congratulate you on your election. You
have been elected on the basis of your experience and skill. The task that
awaits you is quite gigantic but exhilarating because you will be working on
the most emblematic project in the history of the African Union.

“The African Free Trade Zone is a necessity for Africa to
strengthen its integration.”

In his acceptance speech, Mr Mene, SG, said remarkable
progress that had been achieved largely because of the political will and
commitment of the Assembly of Heads of States on providing leadership and
ensuring that Africa takes concrete steps towards the creation of an integrated
market.

He paid glowing tribute to the President of the Republic of
Niger, Mr Mahamadou Issoufou, describing him as the Champion of the AfCFTA, Dr
Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the Commission and thanked Amb. Albert
Muchanga and former Commissioner Madam Fatima Haram Acyl.

Mr. Wamkele Mene underscored the importance of the Republic
of Ghana, as the forefront of integration in Africa.

“Ghana should be at the vanguard of our efforts.” “The AfCFTA
is a critical response to Africa’s developmental challenges. It has the
potential to enable Africa to significantly boost intra-Africa trade, improve
economies of scale and to establish an integrated market.”

He added: “It also sends a strong signal to the international
investor community that Africa is open for business, based on a single
rule-book for trade and investment.”

The Secretary General took the opportunity to address the
Coronavirus scourge, “Africa should not despair and fall into despondency-from
a trade perspective, we should see this crisis as an opportunity – through the
AfCFTA we have an opportunity to reconfigure our supply chains, to reduce
reliance on others and to expedite the establishment of regional value chains
that will boost intra-Africa trade”.

The SG indicated that the implementation phase of the AfCFTA
coincides with the year of silencing the Guns, providing an opportunity to
focus on fast-tracking Africa’s economic development objectives.

“Successful implementation of the AfCFTA shall further
consolidate the gains that are foreseen in Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and
indeed shall take us a step closer to the Africa we want,” he stated.

GNA

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