Ghana Lobby to Host AU Secretariat on Free Trade

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has issued a passionate appeal to members of the ECOWAS Parliament to support Ghana’s bid to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Accra.
She noted that Ghana’s history and credentials on Pan-Africanism and her continuous commitment to the ideals and values of the African Union makes her a worthy Member State of the African Union to host the Secretariat.
The Minister made the appeal in an address she delivered at the Joint Committee Meeting of the ECOWAS Parliament at Alisa hotel in Accra.
Government, she said, has decided to formally express its interest for Ghana to host the AfCFTA Secretariat.
According to her, in spite of Ghana’s pioneering role as a founding member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), and now African Union (AU), the country does not play host to any organ or agency of the Union.
She said, “I wish to seize this opportunity to request all of you to use your good offices to galvanise support from your respective capitals.”
“By offering to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Ghana is reinforcing her commitment to the African Integration Agenda.”
“I trust that we can count on your full support and the support of your countries for the success of our bid.”
The Minister averred that the theme for the meeting, “Public-Private Partnership: An Alternative Source of Funding for Community Programmes and Projects”, aligns with the current vision of Government to encourage more Public-Private Partnerships as a credible and alternative source of funding for the socio-economic development of the country.
Government, she said, believes the prosperity of the country rests on creating the necessary environment for the private sector to thrive.
She said, “This should therefore be the engine of growth for the country’s socio-economic development.”
“It is only when it happens that we can wean our countries off the support of development parners and realize our vision of Ghana Beyond Aid” and extending it to Africa beyond Aid.”
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Rt. Hon. Moustapha Cissé Lo who delivered the opening address argued that Public-Private Partnership financing investments have now been adopted in the Member States for the construction of infrastructures.
This, he said, arouses a certain interest because it contributes to the financing needs of member states and on the other hand also gives rise to concerns.
He stressed that understanding this investment financing mechanism is imperative for states and Parliamentarians, given the constitutional role legislators play as ones responsible for reviewing and adopting finance laws.
He said, “Several States of the Region have now adopted it for the implementation of their investment programs, particularly in the field of construction of road and airport infrastructures, thus completing the financing made by the national budget.”
“By its objectives, the public-private partnership could be an alternative to provide the ECOWAS Member States with infrastructures essential to the development of the Region or even regional integration.”
Hon. Cisse Lo stressed that to understand the content of this form of financing, its advantages and drawbacks in terms of its appeal, Parliamentarians must debate it.
He expressed hope the Parliamentarians will be sufficiently educated on the Public-Private Partnership and its modes of intervention in the financing of projects and programs of investors and on the appropriate sectors.

By Osumanu Al-Hassan/

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