The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Ekwow Spio-Gabrah has announced that the African Union Heads of State will launch the Continental Free Trade Area for Africa (CFTA) during their next summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, later this month.

The CFTA, which is expected to come into operation in 2017 will require “Africa’s continental, regional and national regulatory institutions to work assiduously to harmonize a wide range of standards, procedures and documentary requirements to remove bottlenecks to the free movement of people and goods in Africa so as to improve the ease of doing business on our continent,” the Minister noted.

Delivering a key note address at the 9th Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Section on Business Law held in Lagos, Dr. Spio-Gabrah called for collaboration between Nigeria and Ghana to improve upon the ease of during business in the ECOWAS sub region.

The conference was on the theme: “Regulators as Catalysts for Economic Growth”.

“Ghana remains committed to working closely with Nigeria to advance ECOWAS Regional integration process so as to expand business opportunities for our private sector operatives,” he emphasised.

According to the Minister, both Ghana and Nigeria have made significant progress in instituting regulatory and institutional reforms which have led to improvement in the ease of doing business as acknowledged by various international bodies.

The NBA conference was attended by some 500 top corporate lawyers in Nigeria, with the recently sworn-in Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as Special Guest of Honour.

Also in attendance were judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts of Nigeria and leading business executives.

Highlighting the various reform measures which were undertaken by Ghana, DrSpio-Garbrah cited progress in such areas as business registration, documentary procedures of the Environmental Protection Agency, property registration, and acquisition of construction permits and trading across borders, the Minister expressed Ghana’s commitment to improve upon its performance index   to cement Ghana’s global reputation as an easy destination for doing business.

Acknowledging the energy situation in both countries, Dr. Spio-Gabrah said power was fundamental to every sphere of life, especially industrialization adding that Africa’s development will be impossible without adequate power.

“A country may develop to different stages without oil or gas, without minerals or even without much agricultural output, or without a strong financial services sector, but no country can be modernized, can industrialize or can have meaningful development without power, irrespective of its natural resources,” he stressed.

Dr. Spio-Gabrah called for further collaboration between the two countries in the areas of telecommunications, banking, finance and business sector reforms.

He commended Nigeria for the successful conduct of the 28th March, 2015 Presidential election and the smooth transfer of power to His Excellency, President Muhammed Buhari.