Date: Thursday, 11th August – Sunday, 14th August 2022.
Theme: “The African Continental Free Trade Area as Enabler of Green Job Creation: A Policy Perspective.”
Founded on 21ST March 2018, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is expected to constitute the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. The pact is expected to connect 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion. It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, but achieving its full potential will depend on putting in place significant policy reforms and trade facilitation measures. The agreement will reduce tariffs among member countries and cover policy areas such as trade facilitation and services, as well as regulatory measures. Full implementation of AfCFTA would reshape markets and economies across the region and boost output in the services, manufacturing, and natural resources sectors. As the global economy is in turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the creation of the vast AfCFTA regional market is a major opportunity to help African countries diversify their exports, accelerate growth, and attract foreign direct investment. Creating a continent-wide market will require a determined effort to reduce all trade costs. Glaringly, businesses in Ghana, both small and big, have been charged to be proactive in taking steps to participate and benefit fully from the continent-wide agreement. Trading under the agreement was supposed to have commenced in July 2020 but had to be postponed to January 2021. In spite of the publicity built around the AfCFTA, data from the Ghana Statistical Service shows that only 134,000 businesses are currently aware of the AfCFTA agreement, making up 26.2 percent of firms nationwide. Thus, to ensure that the gains of AfCFTA are harnessed, the modalities and guidelines of the free trade area should be disseminated.
Objectives of the Conference
Drawing on prior trajectories from the University of Environment and Sustainable Development (UESD) is partnering with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Foundation to organize a conference to sensitize stakeholders on the AfCFTA modalities in the areas of SMEs Investment opportunities, Growth &Green Job Creation with a focus on policy options. Specifically, the awareness will focus on liberalisation of trade in goods, services liberalisation, trade facilitation, addressing non-tariff barriers to improve access to markets, competition policy, intellectual property rights, and possibly e-commerce (Green Jobs). Fervently, it is our hope that achieving AfCFTA objectives can make a valuable contribution to African countries’ progress on the SDGs. FES’s commitment to ensuring decent employment, economic transformation, and environmental sustainability makes it an ideal partner to achieve this common goal.