Ghana has launched a digital platform, “AfCFTA hub” with a call on Small and Medium-size Enterprises (SMEs) and startups to utilise it to accelerate free trade for Africa’s economic transformation. Launched in Accra on Monday by the Ministry of Communication and Digitalisation and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI), the hub is to enhance regional digital collaboration to enhance market access on Continent. This formed part of efforts to achieve an inclusive and sustainable development on the African Continent through the creation of the largest single free trade market that connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries by cutting red tape and simplifying customs procedures.
It received support from the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), African Union, and the Afrochampions Initiative, in partnership with Ecobank and MTN Ghana. Together with the AfCFTA Common Transaction Identification, there would be a unique AfCFTA number to identify businesses under the trade pact, which would serve as critical anti-fraud and crime-fighting purpose domestically and regionally. Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, said Ghana’s foundation was built on trade and is a continental leader in ICT innovation. This, she said, would make it easy for the export of technology startups and enable economic actors to expand their markets in Ghana and other parts of the continent under AfCFTA. She said: “Our business process outsourcing landscape shall be revatalised by AfCFTA as Ghana becomes a hub for call centre, data processing, data science and various outsourcing services for businesses all over the continent and beyond.” The Minister noted that the platform would be interlinked with private sector systems in e-commerce, modern retail and logistics areas to “create a powerful nerve centre to ease and energise SMEs and startups.
She said: “Now that we’ve made it mandatory for all businesses and enterprises running delivery, courier, logistics, postal, marketplace and digital commerce activities to register electronically with the right and relevant regulators, we expect online service providers such as Uber, Glovo, Bolt, Jumia, Tonaton, Yango, Amazon and others to ensure that all businesses registered on their platforms promptly secure their AfCFTA Number and start taking the necessary steps to integrate their transaction processing systems with the AfCFTA Hub.” She underscored that when effectively utilised, all customers would be able to verify and validate their regulatory and compliance status, thereby increasing trust in the marketplace. Mrs Owusu-Ekuful indicated that Ghana and six other African countries would soon begin onboarding young entrepreneurs, SMEs, and startups to obtain free AfCFTA number to complement other AfCFTA mechanisms.
“For these and many other reasons, we are announcing directives meant to speed up the adoption of the AfCFTA Number and the AfCFTA Common Transaction ID frameworks in Ghana,” the Minister said. Mr Herbert Krapa, Deputy Minister, MoTI, said with AfCFTA resolving trade facilitation, border and other business issues, the hub would engender economic diversification and create jobs for the youth on the African continent. He asked businesses to take advantage of the array of digital tools in trade and pledged that the Ministry would protect SMEs and export to neighbouring countries smoothly. Ms Grace Khoza, Senior Advisor Communications, AfCFTA Secretariat, said the hub would speed up realisation of the dream of emancipating Africa, not only politically, but also, through economic transformation and development. Ms Khoza explained that through digital trade under the AfCFTA hub, businesses would have the ability to do things “easier and quicker” through unrestricted cross border trade to “bring life to women and communities.” She said the Secretariat would create a regulatory framework to enhance SMEs to affect human lives, communities, and the continent. — GNA