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Africa Prosperity Dialogues’ outcome document makes strong showing at 36th AU Summit

The organisers of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD) have presented the outcome document and compact of the maiden edition of the three-day conference to heads of state and governments who attended the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The first edition of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues was held at the Safari Valley Resort in the Eastern Region of Ghana from Thursday 26 to Saturday 27 January 2023, under the theme, “The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): From Ambition to Action, Delivering Prosperity Through Continental Trade.”

AU summit

The 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union took place from Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 February 2023. The Assembly is the AU’s supreme policy and decision-making organ. It comprises all Heads of State and Governments of AU member states.

The assembly determines the AU’s policies, establishes its priorities, adopts its annual programme, and monitors the implementation of its policies and decisions. The 36th Summit was held under the theme, “The Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation”.

APD and 36th AU Summit common agenda

The theme of the APD was “The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): From Ambition to Action, Delivering Prosperity through Continental Trade”, and the theme for the 36th AU summit was “The Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation”. This alignment of themes made the decision of the organizers of the APD to present the Outcome Document to the Heads of State and the AU a strategic one.

The dialogues

The APD were in two parts: first, business executives, policy leaders, business associations, ministers of state, heads of regional economic communities, senior officials from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, senior officials of the African Union Commission, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), technocrats, women and young entrepreneurs, and other thought leaders held a retreat at Safari Valley Resort, from 26-27 January 2023.

Hannah Awuku, executive secretary of the Africa Prosperity Network discussing the content of the APD Outcome Document with the President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Wonie Bio.
Hannah Awuku, executive secretary of the Africa Prosperity Network discussing the content of the APD Outcome Document with the President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Wonie Bio.

Attendees of the retreat concluded that the full implementation of the AfCFTA agreement would attract cross-border investments by eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers and enable investors in member countries to have access to a continent of 1.3 billion people with a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion – a figure expected to grow exponentially in the years ahead.

The retreat also emphasized the centrality of the private sector in achieving the AfCFTA goals and urged African countries to undertake initiatives in support of their private sector’s access to the preferential treatment provided by the Agreement.

Topics such as Ratification, Market Access, Trade Liberalisation and Dispute Resolution, Trade in Services, Negotiations on Phase II of the AfCFTA Agreement, Guided Trade Initiative, Industrialization, Innovation and Technology, Financing and Resource Mobilization, Free Movement of Persons, and Partnerships for Impact, where all up for discussion during two-days of dialogue.

Presidential and business dialogues

The second part was the Presidential and Business Executives’ Dialogue held at Peduase Lodge, Ghana’s Presidential Retreat Center.

Identifiable groups such as the business community, governments, the AfCFTA Secretariat, and development partners called for investment in science technology and innovation to power value-added made-in-Africa production and industrialization, pursue commodity-based industrialization, facilitate the production of high-quality goods and services within the African Single Market and engage with partners to mobilize adequate resources for the implementation of the AfCFTA.

Outcome/future of APD

Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the AU summit, Gayheart Mensah, a Director at the Africa Prosperity Network (APN), noted, “Following the successful three-day summit, the APN is pleased to present its Outcome Document of the two-day Africa Prosperity Dialogues and a Compact of the one-day Presidential and Business Executives Dialogue, to the leadership of the African Union (AU) and to Heads of State and governments attending the Summit”.

“APN is persuaded that the Outcome Document and Compact will serve as rich resources to help shape the ongoing implementation of the AfCFTA.

“The Africa Prosperity Dialogues (APD) has come to stay, and the Africa Prosperity Network (APN) looks forward to the next edition in the coming year,” Mr Mensah said.

Memorandum of understanding

As part of engagements between the Executive Secretary of APN, Hannah Awuku, and officials of the African Union, it was proposed that the APN and the African Union, as well as the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, ought to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to pave way for their future engagements.

“The APN, subject to the approval of the Board of Directors, will commence the necessary processes to ensure that the suggestion for the signing of an MoU is done within the shortest possible time,” Miss Hannah Awuku said.

“APN’s participation in the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union has been an eye-opener. I am convinced that our engagements will help shape the future of the Africa Prosperity Dialogues,” she added.

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Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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