40-year-old South African Wamkele Mene has been sworn in as the first Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat.
Mene was elected in February this year for the top job after vying for the position with three other shortlisted persons.
He was picked however and confirmed at the African Union’s 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of heads of state in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
His swearing in took place on Thursday at the headquarters in the African Union in Addis Ababa, witnessed by the president of the AU commission and other senior officials.
Mene is a former Head of Mission to the World Trade Organisation for South Africa.
He was from South Africa’s department of trade and industry and the country’s chief negotiator during discussions on the free trade area.
The newly elected Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (#AfCFTA) Secretariat, H.E. @MeneWamkele swore in today as the 1st ever Secretary General. The ceremony took place @_AfricanUnion headquarters in the presence of H.E.@AUC_MoussaFaki & @AmbMuchanga. pic.twitter.com/EnAKiVSrxA
— AU-TradeIndustry (@AUTradeIndustry) March 19, 2020
Ghana is host of secretariat
Mene will be operating from Ghana’s capital, Accra which is the host country for the secretariat.
Ghana’s President has already revealed that the secretariat will be operation by March, signalling the resolve of African leaders to made the African free trade project a reality.
The AfCFTA, according to African Union leaders needs to be implemented by July, 2020 and everything shows that the deadline would be met.
The continental free-trade zone would be the world’s largest free trade area uniting 1.3 billion people and creating a $3.4 trillion economic bloc.
The free trade zone is considered a critical action to usher Africa into a new era of development. The African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will have 54 African Union (AU) members.
African countries only do about 16 per cent of their business with each other with the African Union hoping to change this trend.
The CFTA is a major project of the AU’s long-term development plan Agenda 2063, which emphasis the need to ease trade and travel across the continent.