To assume that elements of fragmentation across the continent would not threaten the successful running of AfCFTA, especially in its nascent stage, would be narrow-minded but these challenges are not insurmountable and outstanding impediments will crumble progressively, as the socio-economic benefits of the agreement become evident.
This is the view of the Chief Executive of the Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GITFiC), Selasi Koffi Ackom, who argues that teething problems have characterised multilateral arrangements of this sort, and AfCFTA is no exception.
According to him national and regional interests, such as the potential loss of revenue from duties and tariffs continues to be a concern for participants, as is evidenced by the apathy displayed by some countries in ratifying the agreement. This, he said, is not dissimilar to issues faced by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), and the European Union (EU).
“We are looking at bringing different nations with different economic goals and challenges, and varying levels of advancement and aspirations together, we are bound to have more than a few teething problems.
Many countries treat revenue from their seaports as the proverbial cash-cow for intended developmental projects. Convincing them otherwise would take some time and the best proof is in the progressive success of the arrangement,” he said in an interview with the B&FT prior to the fifth edition of the Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GITFiC).
He added that whilst AfCFTA was greeted with much excitement, seeing that it promises economic emancipation of the continent, the wearing off of the initial euphoria should not give way to a sense of gloom.
This year’s conference, in partnership with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), German Development Agency (GIZ), and the Bank of Africa (BOA), will be held under the theme: Facilitating Trade and Trade-Finance in AfCFTA; The Role of the Financial Services Sector.
Touching on the rationale behind the subject, Mr. Ackom said having a transparent, easy and speedy means of payments and settlements would serve as the glue to hold the many fragmented pieces together. “Even the pursuit of a single unified currency has been fraught with many challenges, but we cannot fold our arms and look unconcerned, and these are some of the issues we are seeking to address at this convergence of minds.”
The conference will bring together, amongst others, the governors of the central banks of Ghana, Francophone West Africa, Francophone Central Africa and Nigeria, Dr. Ernest Addison, Kone Tiemoko Meyliet, Abbas Mahamat Tolli; and Godwin Emefiele respectively.
Others include the Director-General of West Africa Monetary Institute (WAMI), Dr. O. E. Olowofeso; Director of Research and Macroeconomics of the Ecowas Bank for Investment and Development, Dr. Joseph Asenso as well as the Commissioner for National Insurance Commission, Dr. Justice Ofori.