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APD 2024 will focus on actionable discussions for the implementation of AfCFTA

The actionable policies of the APD will be presented to the Heads of State at the next meeting of the African Union in the form of a compact

The second edition of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD) will, among others, propose actionable policies to African leaders to ensure that the vision of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is fully achieved.

The policies will be proposed and presented to the Heads of State at the next extraordinary meeting of the African Union in the form of a compact.

This, according to Gabby Otchere-Darko, the founder and executive chairman of Africa Prosperity Network (APN), organisers of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD), will be the ultimate goal of all the multiple deliberations that will take place at APD 2024 scheduled to take place in Ghana from Thursday, 25 January to Saturday, 27 January 2024.

Relevant conversations

The APN founder together with other senior executives of the Africa Prosperity Network (APN), Tetracore Energy Groups [APD Partner], and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat in an interaction with journalists in Lagos, Nigeria ahead of APD 2024, at the four season Sheraton hotel in Lagos Nigeria on Wednesday, 17 January 2024, pointed out that the Dialogues is not going to be one of the many usual discussions but it will be a source of concrete policy proposals that can help deliver the much-needed prosperity the continent earnestly desires.

“We want to have actionable conversations, not conversations, for the sake of it. There is a lot of talk, and we are good at talking as a continent (African continent), but I think what is important is that every great idea must be expressed, and through that expression, if there is conviction, then it can translate into real action,” Gabby Otchere-Darko remarked.

Up/Downstream petroleum sectors

Using the petroleum sector as an example, Mr Otchere-Darko, in his address, noted that the African continent produces more crude oil than the refined products it gets for use, however, the refiners on the continent import crude oil, and the money the continent gets from exporting crude oil is eaten away by the money we spend in importing finished products.

This, Gabby Otchere-Darko says, is an important conversation that ought to be discussed because the solution to this challenge is within the continent.

“Yet we aren’t having the conversation between the private sector and the public sector. But if we find a way to work together, among countries, among stakeholders, we can find solutions right there. These are really what these conversations are about.

Interoperability Challenge

Touching on the issue of interoperability, Mr. Otchere-Darko mentioned that he has two sim cards on his phone, a UK sim and a Ghana sim. However, upon arrival in Lagos, it is easier to use the UK sim than it is to use the Ghana sim.

“How come when you are within the European Union? There are no roaming charges, but in Accra – Lagos, I suffer roaming charges. How do we make sure that there is interoperability across the continent? So, the conversation is also about how we add value to our economies so we can have the capability to trade among ourselves, ” the APN founder further remarked.

Essential partner

Emily Mburu-Ndoria, Director of Trade in Services, Investment, Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Trade at the AfCFTA speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene, reiterated the high value that AfCFTA places on the APD noting that the theme for APD 2024: ‘Delivering Prosperity in Africa: Produce, Add Value, Trade’, fits perfectly in the mandate of the AfCFTA, making the upcoming Dialogues extremely vital.

In her address, Ms Mburu-Ndoria observed that issues such as the free movement of people, especially among business people, harmonisation of the regulatory frameworks on the African continent, value addition on goods and services, the financial services sector, digital trade, the different modes of transportation such as maritime, air, inland waterway, pipeline, among others are issues that are being shaped, and discussions on the same are among some of the areas that AfCFTA is seeking to generate healthy conversations on between the private and public sectors during the dialogues.

“For me and on behalf of his excellency Wamkele Mene, I see this partnership [AfCFTA and APN/APD] to be so important with the network so that we can be able to create more awareness and sensitize the citizens of Africa on what the AfCFTA is all about and on how we ensure that there are benefits for the African people in the implementation of the AfCFTA, Emily Mburu-Ndoria said.

“A dialogue between the public and private sectors is paramount so that we can then be even at the policy level, understand what the key areas that need to be addressed are to make it easier to trade within our continent” she added.

Thematic areas

On his part, Gayheart Mensah, a member of the board of directors of APN, pointed out the thematic areas that will constitute the main discussions that will ensue at the 2024 dialogues. The first of the areas, Mr Mensah said, is Agribusiness and food sovereignty.

“We are looking at drawing attention to the advantage that Africa has when it comes to food production and agribusiness because these are crucial to delivering food sovereignty and prosperity to the people of Africa,” Gayheart Mensah stated.

The second is natural resources, value creation, and the need for a paradigm shift from colonial models of undertaking trade and exploitation of the continent’s natural resources.

“Centuries of exploration of our rich resources have not developed our continent, nor has it delivered prosperity to Africa. At best, it has enriched our trade partners who live beyond our continent,” Mr Mensah said.

Value addition on products, infrastructure, ICT, finance, and investment according to Gayheart will be the other areas that APD 2024 will be focusing on. He noted that the situation where items shipped from certain parts of the African continent, have to travel through Europe before they come back into Africa does not support the kind of interconnected continent we want to achieve.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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