Prof Dodoo who is also the African Union (AU) Standards Ambassador to the AfCFTA Secretariat said despite the restrictions on public gatherings, the secretariat will become operational on the scheduled date.

The secretariat, which is located in Accra, is expected to be inaugurated in the presence of 28 leaders of AU member countries that have ratified the AfCFTA agreement and deposited their Instruments of Ratification with the AU Commission.

The operationalisation of the secretariat is required to allow trading to start under the continental single market by July this year.

Prof. Alex Dodoo told the Daily Graphic that “Government business must continue, and that is the directive from the President, and so from where I sit, I know that the office will be operational as planned.”

Prof. Dodoo added that although the measures put in place are to curb the spread of the virus, “COVID-19 makes a case for us to implement AfCFTA immediately because it has exposed the weakness in our entire operations and shown that we are overly dependent on things made elsewhere”.

“The consequence of COVID-19 will be felt more by developing countries, especially those in Africa that depend on foreign imports from South East Asia because now it’s evident that if we were already trading among ourselves, things would have been much better. So this is a wake-up call for Africans to start trading with one another,” he added.

Economic uncertainty

The AfCFTA covers the entire African continent, made up of 55 countries, with a total population of 1.2 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $3 trillion.

The objective of the AfCFTA is to expand intra-African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade on the continent in order to support economic transformation and job creation.