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Public sector in Africa told not to be excited yet about AfCFTA’s progress

Public sector in Africa told not to be excited yet about AfCFTA’s progress

Ghana Business News | 25th June 2023


Mr David Ofosu-Dorte, Senior Partner, AB and David Africa, has urged African public sector players not to be too excited yet about the African Continental Free Trade Area’s (AfCFTA) progress.

While negotiations on Rule of Origin under the agreement was about 90 per cent complete, he indicated that AfCFTA was far behind the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) of nine Asian countries which had started trading despite starting negotiations on Rule of Origin after AfCFTA had been operational.

“Before we continue deceiving ourselves, it (RCEP) is now the largest trading bloc by volume and quantum and no longer the AfCFTA.

“When you are speeding, it is okay, but what is not okay is when others are catching up. And worst of all, we in Africa are the ones doing the catching up. We are slowing down, and we are happy with our paces,” he said.

He observed that though the public sector was doing well to get the AfCFTA functional, it had “over credited itself with the AfCFTA.”

“About 20 years ago, intra Africa trade was only about 3 per cent and at the signing of the AfCFTA in March 2018 in Rwanda, it was already at 16 per cent without the AfCFTA. The public sector is only taking advantage of what was happening to integrate us,” he said.

Mr Ofosu-Dorte made the remarks when he addressed Public Service workers at the 2023 United Nations/ African Union Public Service Day which was held on the theme, “Building an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Ready Public Sector.”

The day celebrates values and virtues of public service while highlighting its contributions to the developmental process of countries.

Speaking on the topic, “the importance of the public sector for successful implementation for AfCFTA,” Mr Eliphas Barine, the Kenyan High Commissioner to Ghana, said AfCFTA provided the continent an opportunity to scale up “to deliver our people from poverty, bondage, and shame.”

He observed that Africa already had enough sceptics and did not need more especially within the public sector.

He called for improved infrastructure, capacity building of trade enabling institutions, improved access to contemporary knowledge, design policies to unlock access to credit for Small Medium Enterprises (SME) and implementing the AfCFTA in good faith.

“What Africa needs is a public sector with esteemed African identity, engaged and aware of the privilege to deliver on the mandate of the 1.4 billion people and not a self-serving public sector.

“The kind of scepticism as to whether it will succeed or not, that is water under the bridge. The train took off and it is halfway the journey getting to the end,” he said.

Dr Fareed Kwesi Arthur, National Coordinator of the National AfCFTA Coordination Office, called for effective collaboration among public institutions as well as a strong partnership with the private sector to boost the country’s readiness for AfCFTA, adding that “If we work together, we can achieve more.”

He urged the public sector to work at aligning trade policies, strengthen capacity through training and redevelopment of human capital, take the lead in digital transformation, and improve trade facilitation.

Professor Victor Kwame Agyeman, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, said public service workers should have an introspection on their role in AfCFTA to among other things find solutions to doing away with artificial impediments to trade.

“Without an effective, efficient, and competent public service, the achievement of AfCFTA goals remains at risk. The role of the public service in upholding the agenda of governments on the African continent cannot be over emphasised,” he said.

 source: Ghana Business News