Kenya on Monday lost the bid to host the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area to Ghana during the 35th Extra Ordinary AU summit in Niamey, Niger.
“Now official: Ghana has been selected by the Assembly of Heads of State & Government of @_AfricanUnion as the host country for the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area #AfCFTA. Congratulations to the President of Ghana @NAkufoAddo and the good people of Ghana,” AFCFTA tweeted on Monday.
Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo also confirmed the decision saying, “Ghana has been chosen by the African Union as the host country for the Secretariat for the African Continental Free Trade Area.”
The summit meeting was also to launch the continental trade deal.
In May, Kenya’s Foreign Affairs CS Dr. Monica Juma met the Technical Evaluation Team of the African Union and presented Kenya’s bid to host
She was accompanied by CBK Governor Patrick Njoroge and Foreign Affairs PS Ambassador Macharia Kamau, while the AU team was led Ambassador Rosette Nyirinkindi Katungye.
But soon after the announcement, the Foreign Affairs minister acknowledged that Ghana will host the secretariat.
The permanent office is expected to start work later in July this year.
Among the issues, the technical evaluation team considered included facilities and safety, after which they made recommendations to the Council of Ministers at the AU.
Kenya, one of the leading diplomatic hubs in Africa, was battling with Ghana, Senegal, and Egypt, all who signed up for the AFCTA when it was launched in Kigali in March last year, to host the permanent office.
With the signing by Benin and Nigeria, which was hesitant to sign up, it means 54 countries have now signed on to the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement.
The deal is expected to create Sh300 trillion continental free-trade zone encompassing 1.2 billion people for movement of goods, traders and human resource with little restrictions.
It commits governments to remove tariffs on 90 percent of goods produced within Africa and phase out the levy in the future. It also aims at establishing a single market that will spur industrialization, infrastructure development, diversifying economy and trade.
President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the landmark agreement in March last year.
At the same time, AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki announced that July 7 from now on will be officially celebrated as the Day of African Integration in commemoration of the “historic operationalization of the AfCFTA, as we start the journey through economic integration vision of the AfricaWeWant.”