Presenting a statement on the floor of Parliament on Tuesday (May 26, 2020) to mark the occasion of Africa Day, she said that: “We must move ahead with the most ambitious steps toward pan-African integration with the creation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area ensuring it is operationalised as soon as possible.”

The 2020 Africa Day was marked in the shadows of the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected the world.

The Minister said that even during this pandemic, Africa is confidently pursuing their aspirations for a better future for its citizens.

Implementation of the free trade agreement is expected to commence on July 1 this year, however, due to the disruptions occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic, analysts have suggested it be deferred to next year.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic is a major test of the resolve of the African Union and its member states to grow intra-Africa trade.

“While dealing with the pandemic and saving lives, Africa cannot defer urgent action on plans and programmes that will advance continental trade and development.”

Ghana was selected to host the AfCFTA secretariat. This gives the country an instrumental role in overseeing the implementation of the agreement. The country has committed US$10m for the operationalisation of the secretariat.

AfCFTA provides the opportunity for Africa to create the world’s largest free trade area, with the potential to unite 1.3bn people in a US$2.5 trillion economic bloc and usher in a new era of development.