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AfCFTA Goes Digital to Reduce Cost of Doing Business

Mr Wamkele Keabetswe Mene, Secretary-General, African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) said the AfCFTA would on December 5, 2020 launch a digital platform in South Africa to streamline all procedures that made business transactions expensive and enhance business linkages among the private sector.

This had become necessary due to the high cost of doing business, making transactions, and transferring funds, he said, and noted that the Secretariat was developing a Pan-African payment platform to enable businesses under the AfCFTA to transfer funds in local currency to reduce the costs of converting local currency into foreign ones.

“This will be a catalyst to significantly boost intra-African trade from the 15.8 per cent where it stands today,” he said.

Mr Mene made the call on Wednesday, at the 44th Annual General Meeting of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) and the Election of Officers of the Chamber, in Accra.

He has called for a structured relationship with AfCFTA his and the GNCCI to boost trade.

The structured relationship will be enhanced with digital platforms, open markets across the continent for members of the Chamber and the entire private business sector.

Mr Mene said in Africa, almost 70 per cent contribution of GDP came from the informal sector, which was driven by women.

He said the Secretariat was, therefore, planning to engage women traders and young Africans to find the appropriate instruments to aid the full participation of women in the implementation of the agreement.

The AfCFTA Secretary-General called on all member countries of the Agreement to take active steps to help less capable countries to export, as they also hinged on the value chain that would be leveraged on the agreement.

“The proper implementation of the agreement will redeem women, children and other vulnerable groups out of extreme poverty,” he added.

Nana Dr. Appiagyei Dankawoso I, President of the GNCCI, said the private sector employed 94 per cent of the country’s workforce, out of which the agricultural sector constituted 60 per cent.

He said outfit had initiated a credit union facility that offered affordable interest rates to members.

Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, Minister of Trade and Industry, in a speech read on his behalf, said government would implement the Coronavirus Alleviation and Re-vitalisation of Enterprises (CARES) programme
to minimise the effects of COVID-19 on businesses.

The programme is intended to provide COVID-19 related support to medium and large-scale companies.

Government had earlier established a comprehensive GHS1.2 billion Emergency Relief Fund Package for households and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) called the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme.

For the next three years, Mr Kyerematen said, the CARES programme would support private sector through improved access to finance, accelerated digitization, improved business environment and MSMEs growth.

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