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Show commitment to implementation of AfCFTA – David Ofosu-Dorte urges member countries

Heads of state of member countries of the African Union (AU) have been urged to show more commitment towards the speedy implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative.

This is because the introduction of the AfCFTA is one of the most significant milestones the AU has chalked up since its transformation on July 9, 2002.

Furthermore, the speedy and successful implementation of the AfCFTA will eventually make the AU relevant to the people on the continent.

It will also bring meaning to the body’s transformation from what was previously known as the Organisation of African Unity( OAU)–a largely political orientation body as opposed to AU’s inclination towards business integration in Africa.

The Senior Partner and Founder of AB & David, Africa, a Pan African Business Law Firm, David Ofosu-Dorte, made the observation in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra last Tuesday on the significance of Africa Day (formerly African Freedom Day and African Liberation Day).

It is the annual commemoration of the foundation of the OAU on May 25, 1963.

It is celebrated in various countries on the African continent, as well as around the world.

The organisation was transformed into the AU on July 9, 2002 in Durban, South Africa, but the commemoration continues to be marked on May 25 annually.

“We seem to have a big intention to integrate and create one big African market, but individually, we are signing bilateral agreements with various countries outside Africa and ended up undermining what we want to achieve” Mr Ofosu-Dorte emphasised.

Achievements, challenges
He indicated that one of the significant milestones of the AU was the implementation of the AfCFTA which, he explained, came on the back of seeking to achieve the Agenda 2063.

However, he noted, its implementation was slower than he thought.

He attributed the situation to attitudinal issues on the part of political leaders of member states as there was low commitment on their part to raise the needed funds to speed up the AfCFTA process.

“I mean if you have an organisation where to the best of my understanding, more than 70 per cent of its budget is coming from outside the continent, it is definitely not the best to write home about so that means the external influences are very high,” Mr Ofosu-Dorte further observed.

Attitude
He said political leaders on the continent needed to disabuse their minds of spending resources only to win elections to the neglect of focusing more on business integration on the continent.

The founder equally entreated heads of state to rather consider funding the AU in various ways, stressing that “ I am sure it is one of the reasons the AfCFTA secretariat in Ghana may be slow in implementing some of the things they are doing”.

He said if funding the mother organisation was a challenge, then definitely that would also affect the AfCFTA secretariat.

Another attitudinal problem, he explained, was the fact that integration regarding free movement of people and goods on the continent had become an issue as currently it was difficult to move around Africa.

Mr Ofosu-Dorte expressed regret that efforts to get at least 15 countries on the continent to ratify an agreement on operationalising a single air transport market protocol as part of the backbones of the free trade agreement had not yet been achieved as nine countries had so far ratified the agreement.

“So, you cannot in one breath have over 50 countries ratify that free trade agreement.

But less than 10 countries have ratified the single air transport market protocol, which will then open up air travel and make it easier for airlines to operate more routes across Africa,” he stated.

Mr Ofosu-Dorte said similar things could be said about the maritime sector and “without movement of goods across the continent, it makes it more difficult to trade. So, again, this is one area that I expect a better attitude”.

Orientation
“Besides the well-known political orientation, where some of us used to accuse the leaders of drinking champagne at summits and not making the AU or the OAU relevant to the ordinary person, I think gradually AU has become quite relevant.” he stressed.

“And for me, the transition to the AU from the OAU moved the scale a notch up in the sense that it introduced a bit of business orientation to the approach,” Mr Ofosu-Dorte further explained.

He indicated that other landmarks achieved by the AU included the implementation of its socio-economic flagship programme, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, dedicated to facilitating continental integration in Africa through improved regional infrastructure.

 

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