Media In Africa Urged To Own AfCFTA Agenda And Implementation3 min read
Top media personalities across Africa have called for the formation of a pan-African group of trade journalists who will champion the AfCFTA agenda as well as an African Chamber of Commerce led by individual countries. The group of journalists were of the view that the formation of such a body is the surest way to sensitise the continent on the merits of the AfCFTA.
They spoke at a webinar hosted jointly by the African Prosperity Network (APN), organisers of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD), and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) secretariat in Ghana on Tuesday (December 19, 2023).
The objective of the webinar was to champion the propagation of the AfCFTA concept and all its economic benefits across the continent, as well as explore and strategise on how African media can engage people and promote information-disseminating services across the continent.
The webinar comes a month ahead of the next APD, slated to take place from January 25 to 27, 2024 at the Peduase Presidential Lodge at Aburi Hills, Ghana.
In his opening remarks, the Founder/Executive Chairman of the Africa Prosperity Network (APN), Gabby Otchere-Darko, said that “the AfCFTA is arguably the biggest project for Africa” and every effort must be made to ensure its full implementation as seamlessly as possible.
In his opinion, “the small trader in Lagos must understand the significance of being able to sell, especially with the support of technology, what she trades in another country on the African continent without having to pay any duties and other charges.”
The webinar focused on four (4) thematic areas through which the media can support the continental drive toward the full implementation of the AfCFTA. They were: “opportunities and challenges in the AfCFTA; the media’s role in engaging citizens; beyond blocks ― talking to each other, and making information regarding the AfCFTA, flow freely throughout the continent.
Speaking on the opportunities and challenges in creating a single African market, Dr Tsotetsi Makong, chief technical advisor, at the AfCFTA Secretariat and Charles Onyango-Obbo, author/columnist at the Nation Media Group, East Africa, observed that the major challenge facing the continent was youth unemployment.
They said the problem could be resolved or exacerbated depending on what the continent does or does not do with the AfCFTA.
Dr Makong was of the view that the trade volumes between the African continent and countries like China, the United States of America (USA), the European Union (EU), India, and the United Kingdom (UK), among others, are out there already. What is now important is how the continent can shift this phenomenon to reflect trade between fellow African countries, he stated.
Continent of choice
Yofi Grant, chief executive officer (CEO) of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) a strategic partner of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues, observed that the rest of the world is meeting with Africa or coming to Africa because the continent is where the opportunities are.
Mr. Grant stated that the AfCFTA is a journey that the continent must embark on together if the continent is to get out of the bottom of the pile regarding development. The media, he said, must be the pivot around which the continent must pursue this agenda.
Other speakers present at the webinar were Patrick Smith Editor-in-chief of The Africa Report, Ferial Haffajee Associate Editor of Daily Maverick (South Africa), George Jahraa(“Ashikele”) Singer/Songwriter Charles Onyango-Obbo Writer and Columnist Nation Media Group.