The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), as defined by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, is a free trade area among 54 out of 55 African Union nations. This free trade area, if operationalized, will become the largest in the world after the establishment of the World Trade Organisation regarding participating countries.
With the merging of 54 countries into a single market, the free trade area is expected to be a tariff-free continental market that will facilitate the growth of local businesses, drive industrialization leading to the creation of more jobs as well as enhance intra-African trade etc. Through this platform, all the partaking countries will have unreserved access to a unified market, which will activate a surge in production and help better the lives of citizens. Access to and cost of goods and services will be greatly improved. Such an integrated market area is a win-win for all countries involved.
The AfCTA has the potential of turning the economic fortunes of Africa around for the better, which will benefit Ghana as well. We also stand the chance of gaining further industrial and value-added returns because of intra-African trade. The government has announced that it intends to roll out a plan with institutionalized structures and modalities that will ensure conformity of the requirements of the trade agreement with national programmes. This will reflect in areas such as cost of doing business, production capacity, private sector participation, and trade facilitation, investment financing and information sharing.
The biggest concern with the AfCTA remains the capacity and willingness of African countries to implement the provisions in the agreement. Are the countries prepared to open up their markets to and allow unimpeded cross border transactions? Without a shred of doubt, the benefits of AfCTA far outweigh the cost, and countries like Ghana, Nigeria and Cote D’Ivoire must continue to push towards its actualization. Africa must gather the political will to bring its decades-long economic integration objective into fulfillment to better the lot of the continent.