Match words with actions to accelerate AfCFTA implementation – Prof Desta

A professor of International Economic Law, Melaku Geboye Desta, has asked African governments to match their words with actions to accelerate the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Doing so, he said, required building institutional capacities and creating an enabling environment for more private sector participation, as well as increased sensitisation.

He spoke exclusively with the Ghana News Agency over the weekend, in Accra, on the margins of a two-day conference, which took stock of the five years of coming into force of the AfCFTA.

The conference, which was attended by law students, researchers, and industry players, was on the theme: ‘Taking stock of the implementation of the AfCFTA: continental efforts, State commitment and private sector involvement.’

It was organised by the University of Professional Studies, Accra, UPSA Law School, together with the Deutsche Gesellschaft fr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ – German Development Corporation), and other p

Prof Desta explained that the ratification of the five protocols of the AfCFTA had set a strong foundation for achieving the goals of the tariff free-quota free, cross-border trade among African countries.

The regulations are rules of origin, tariff concessions, online mechanism on monitoring, the Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), and the African trade observatory.

He said, ‘in many cases on the continent, we have so many good ideas, but we don’t invest in our capacity; the ability of our institutions to translate our promises into realities.’

‘We need to invest in building capacities. When people have the capacity to action, we can make a difference in our lives, and for that action to happen, we need the capacity,’ he noted.

Prof Desta, who is also the Coordinator for the African Trade Policy Centre UN Economic Commission for Africa, stated that in the past five years, governments on the continent had done well with the agreement.

‘The completion of the five protocols is a hu
ge achievement. Now, let’s move to the next level and make the trade happen. Let’s sensitise and support the private sector, because without them the AfCFTA won’t make any meaningful impact,’ he said.

He explained that though physical infrastructure, including roads, railways, sea and airports, were critical, without the requisite legal framework, the implementation of the free trade agreement would be hindered.

‘We need to invest a lot to build infrastructure, which is not going to be easy and cheap, but even if we want to have infrastructure tomorrow, if don’t have the legal infrastructure, that’s not going to bring anything,’ Prof Desta explained.

Mr Wamkele Mene, Secretary General, AfCFTA Secretariat, stated that the legal framework governing the implementation of the AfCFTA, has been made to address disputes regarding design flaws and political issues in similar agreements.

He expressed confidence that the implementation of the agreement would transform intra-African trade system for development thro
ugh a legally binding regulation.

Source: Ghana News Agency