Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has challenged the secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to move quickly to implement ‘Open skies’ across member countries to facilitate easy movement of goods and services within member countries.

According to him, Africans are anxious to see the successful implementation of the trade pact since it’s a game changer for the development of African economies.

The Vice President also charged African countries that are yet to sign and ratify the agreement to do so immediately.

Speaking at the maiden ‘Africa Trade Roundtable’ on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area organized by the Centre for African Legal Studies at the UPSA Law School, Dr. Bawumia said the successful implementation will not only boost the economic integration of African countries, but it will also be key to the long-term survival of African businesses recovering from the adverse effects of the pandemic.

“I would like to ask the AfCFTA secretariat to move quickly. Africans don’t want to see this as a paper once again signed. We want to see implementation, we want to see that this agreement is bringing real change. And for that matter, I’m challenging the AfCFTA secretariat and the Secretary General to move quickly, for example the implementation of ‘open skies’ across the African continent, so that we can fly easily among ourselves. This is in the context of service protocol,” he noted.

The Vice President also said the immense benefits of AfCFTA would not be fully achieved if AU Member States, and other stakeholders, such as the private sector, civil society organisation and the academic community, do not put in complimentary measures for the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.

Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, Wamkele Mene, said “we have now for the first time established a forum for resolution of trade investment, intellectual property right dispute. Through this protocol on dispute settlement, it will function like any other court of law.”

“A complainant can bring their dispute and the dispute settlement body will consider the merit of the dispute and we will establish a panel which is what we call the court of first instincts. If you don’t like the ruling of the panel, you have a right to take it on a review,” he stated.

The ‘Africa Trade Roundtable’ on the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area brought together intra-African trade experts, government officials, international trade and commercial law experts to discuss pertinent issues, arising out of the implementation of AfCFTA.