Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has said the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) depends on the collaboration between industry and bureaucrats at the implementation level.
He indicated that as continental multilateral policies are formed, success will always depend on the operational framework and the commitment of all actors.
The Vice President said this at the opening of the Ghana International Petroleum Conference 2021 (Ghipcon 2021) organised by the Ghana of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD) virtually under the theme, “Positioning Africa’s Petroleum Downstream for AfCFTA.”
“AfCFTA is a decision of the Authority of the Heads of States of Africa, but its success depends on the work of industry and the collaboration between industry and bureaucrats at the implementation level,” he said. “It is for this reason that I find the Ghipcon 2021 theme very relevant and important towards the success of AfCFTA in the petroleum sector.”
According to the vice president, bureaucratic bottlenecks in intra-African trade have set nations apart in the area of economic cooperation and investment.
Dr. Bawumia noted that AfCFTA, however, provides industry with a perfect opportunity to contribute towards the realisation of a first world Africa.
“We trade about 85% with the world and just 15% with ourselves. This is in sharp contrast with trade amongst the EU at 67%, Asia at 61% and 47% in the Americas. This situation must change if we are truly committed to Africa’s economic transformation,” he stressed.
The Vice President noted that Africa has considerable mineral, oil and gas resources that can help accelerate growth if used strategically.
“We are at an economic crossroads, one that needs teamwork to achieve the transformation of our economies for the betterment and sustainability of our people,” he said. “With all our natural and human resources endowment, we risk an economic catastrophe with many of our teeming youth unemployed and angry if we fail to harness them productively to accelerate growth.”
Dr Bawumia noted that Africa is responsible for the annual production of much of the world’s natural resource: 9.6% of global crude oil supplies, 80% of platinum, 77% of cobalt, 51% of manganese, 46% of diamonds, 39% of Chromium and 22% of gold.
The challenge, he indicated, is building factories and refineries to add value to the continent’s natural resources.
He called on African nations to work together in the development of regional assets including refineries and logistical assets, to achieve the economies of scale required for commercial viability. “This drives productivity and puts our able youth to work, which in turn preserves and enriches their dignity,” the vice president said.
The Ghana International Petroleum Conference (GhIPCON) is Ghana’s foremost Petroleum Downstream Conference where policymakers, industry operatives and experts converge to deliberate on issues of policy and operations as well as share ideas and experiences.
GhIPCON is designed to actively bring to the fore the petroleum industry’s perspective and guidance on issues of governmental and regulatory policy as well as best practices for the advancement of the industry, not only in Ghana but across the sub-region and beyond.