The Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, Mr Wamkele Mene, has emphasised that Africa is open for business.
He said the continent had tremendous business potential in various sectors, including agriculture, energy, infrastructure, natural resources and information and communications technology (ICT), which offered opportunities for African entrepreneurs.
Speaking at the AfCFTA–Angola Business Investment Forum last Tuesday, the first-ever investment forum between the AfCFTA Secretariat and a party state, Mr Mene asserted that with its vast uncultivated arable land, Africa had the potential to ensure its own food sufficiency and be a major supplier on global food markets.
The forum was attended by the President of Angola, Mr Joao Manuel Goncalves Lourenco, who was in Ghana for a three-day state visit.
Several sectors of opportunities were highlighted to businesses and entrepreneurs who had gathered at the maiden AfCFTA Investment Forum in Accra.
Chief executive officers (CEOs) of major Ghanaian businesses attended the forum.
They included the Jospong Group of Companies, Interplast, Kasapreko, Ernest Chemists, B5 Plus, West Blue Consulting, Rana Motors, Tarzan Enterprises, Japan Motors, Cocoa Processing Company Ltd and Aker Energy.
Business associations such as the International Chamber of Commerce were present.
Mr Mene disclosed that already negotiated protocols under the AfCFTA provided great opportunities for entrepreneurs, businesses and consumers across the continent, unlocking its trade and manufacturing potential and further enhancing industrialisation in Africa.
“While we are about to start working on the Protocol on Investments, the Protocol on Trade in Services already negotiated has provisions regarding investment: one of the general objectives is to ‘foster domestic and foreign investment’,” the Secretary General emphasised.
He said additional protocols had strengthened value propositions of entrepreneurs and reduced their risks.
“The introduction of a continental simplified trade regime should provide small and informal businesses with greater protection and support their participation in the new export opportunities created by the AfCFTA.
“There is also the Protocol on AfCFTA dispute resolution which further enhances the value proposition for entrepreneurs by making investment in Africa less risky for investors,” Mr Mene added.
The Minister of Trade and Industries, Mr Alan K. Kyerematen, reechoed the existing fraternal relations between Ghana and Angola, which he said had deepened in recent times following high-level official visits between the two countries.
He also acknowledged the support Ghana received from Angola in the former’s bid to host the AfCFTA Secretariat.
Mr Kyerematen explained that the AfCFTA provided a unique platform to guide Africa’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery effort.
“Under the framework of AfCFTA, Ghana and Angola have a lot to gain from working together in fields such as agriculture, fisheries, livestock, industry, oil and gas, the petrochemical industry, value addition to our mineral resources, the development of energy resources, particularly renewable energy, and the financial technology (FinTech) industry,” the minister stated.
He urged businesses from both countries to familiarise themselves with negotiated protocols under the AfCFTA in order to take advantage of the agreement to grow their businesses.
“It is worth noting that the AfCFTA Protocol on Services, covering five priority sectors, namely, transport, communications, financial services, tourism and business services, which have been negotiated as part of Phase One the AfCFTA Negotiations, has the potential to create a robust ecosystem for supporting the productive sectors of African countries,” Mr Kyerematen said.
President Lourenço expressed gratitude to the Ghanaian government for its cooperation.
He charged Ghanaian businesses to begin to consider the favourable investment climate that had been created in Angola and take advantage of that market.