Seifsa, Busa welcome Mene’s appointment as AfCFTA secretary-general

12th February 2020

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online


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Wamkele Mene has been elected as first secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Mene – who was South Africa’s chief negotiator in the AfCFTA and a former diplomat at the World Trade Organisation – will be inaugurated along with other members of the AfCFTA secretariat in March, ahead of the July 1 target date for the free trade agreement to kick in.

Mene beat Nigeria’s Cecilia Akintomide, a former VP and general secretary of the African Development Bank, after a second round of voting by African heads of State and government on Monday.

The AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, encompassing 55 countries and about 1.3-billion people.

The secretariat, which will be based in Accra, Ghana, is expected to have a staff complement of 45 to 50 professional people, with no political appointees.

National federation, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) welcomed Mene’s election.

Seifsa chief economist Michael Ade said Mene’s election places South Africa in pole position to lead the largest free trade area in the world, with strategic benefits for local businesses, including those in the metals and engineering sector.

Business Unity South Africa president Sipho Pityana also congratulated Mene on his election.

“We are confident that [he] has what it takes to ensure rapid implementation of the AfCFTA, and to maximise the opportunities it presents. This is a significant appointment for South Africa and the continent, and it is particularly notable that it takes place during the same African Union (AU) session at which President Cyril Ramaphosa took over chairmanship of the AU,” Pityana said.

He indicated that organised business was familiar with Mene and were confident that he would be able to ensure the seamless implementation of AfCFTA.

“The free trade agreement presents huge opportunities to fight under-development and poverty, while advancing peace and prosperity on the continent. We urge the private sector across the continent to align itself and play a coordinated role in operationalising the AfCFTA, so that we continue to uplift the continent and its people.”

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online





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