H.E Mr. Wamkele MENE, Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), concluded a two-day working visit to the Togolaise Republic, at the invitation of His Excellency Mr. Faure Ezzozimna GNASSINGBE – President of the Togolaise Republic.
The Secretary-General was received by President Faure Gnassingbe, the two leaders discussed a number of issues including the start of trading under the AfCFTA and the operationalization of the AfCFTA Secretariat as well as progress towards the completion of outstanding issues under Phase I and the commencement of Phase II negotiations in line with the African Union Summit decisions. The two leaders highlighted the importance of the AfCFTA in the overall African trade integration agenda and stressed the importance of an effective and efficient AfCFTA Secretariat in the implementation of the Agreement.
In his meeting with the Private Sector in Lomé, the Secretary-General expressed his appreciation to Honourable Kodjo Sevon-Tepe ADEDZE, Minister of Trade, Industry and Local Consumption and the people of the Togolaise Republic for the support that was extended to the AfCFTA Secretariat. He mentioned that the Private Sector is a key stakeholder and beneficiary of the AfCFTA, in view of the fact that Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are the actual traders and investors, responsible for moving goods and services across borders.
Touring the Autonomous Port of Lomé; the only natural deep-water port on the West African coast and a trade and transit hub in the sub-region, the Secretary-General remarked that” Africa is ready for the AfCFTA and that with a little push we can all deliver Africa that we want”; The Secretary-General also visited the Joint Border Post between Ghana and Togo, which was joint cooperation between the ECOWAS Commission, and the Governments of Ghana and Togo with funding from the European Union. In addition, the Secretary-General also met and discussed issues relating to the AfCFTA and the transport sector with the Chief Executive Officer of the ASKY group.
The Secretary-General was accompanied on his tour by the Honourable Minister of Trade, Industry, and Local Consumption; the ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement; the Director-General of the Autonomous Port of Lomé; the Head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Lomé; Senior officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs; and Trade; as well as the AfCFTA Secretariat.
The AfCFTA Agreement was signed at the 10th Extraordinary Session of the African Union Summit in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2018, and entered into force on 30 May 2019 following the deposit of the twenty-second (22nd) instrument of ratification of the Agreement.
Negotiations for the AfCFTA were launched on 15 June 2015 and concluded on 21 March 2018 when the Agreement was opened for signature. 44 Member States signed the Agreement on the spot that day. As of today, 54 of 55 African countries are signatories to the AfCFTA Agreement; and 36 countries are also State Parties by virtue of their deposit of instruments of ratification. Trading under the AfCFTA commenced on 1 January 2021.