The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat building based in Ghana’s capital Accra has been commissioned and officially handed over to the African Union.
The secretariat which is housed in the Africa Trade House will be the focal point for the coordination of the continent’s biggest trade area.
The secretariat was supposed to be operational by March this year but the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic forced the deadline to be missed.
But the African Union is still hopeful despite the latest setback, the dream of an African free trade project becomes a reality.
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.
Mene is a former Head of Mission to the World Trade Organisation for South Africa.
The AfCFTA, according to African Union leaders was to be implemented by July, 2020 but with the Covid-19 pandemic there are indications that can only happen in January 2021.
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.