REGIONAL TIES

Ghana beat Kenya to host Africa trade office

In Summary

• The actual boarder free trade is expected to start in July 2020 to give member states time to adopt the new framework

President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on behalf of Kenya, March 21, 2018. /PSCU
President Uhuru Kenyatta signs the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on behalf of Kenya, March 21, 2018. /PSCU

Kenya has lost bid to host African Continental Free Trade Area to Ghana, even as African leaders meeting in Niger operationalise the trade body.

The decision which was made at the 12th extraordinary session of the assembly of African Union heads of state in Niger on Sunday will now see Ghana benefit from trappings of power that comes with the permanent office.

Besides, gaining prominence and prestige, Ghana will also secure jobs for its citizens at the secretariat and get cash boost to its travel and tourism industries.

Ghana President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has already committed $10 million (Sh1 billion) to help set up the office.

Kenya which on Friday was optimistic of clinching the spot had to swallow the bitter pill yesterday to congratulation the West African nation.

‘’Congratulations to Ghana’’, Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Macharia Kamau wrote in response to the Star which had sought his comment on the defeat.

Last week, the PS said Kenya had presented an honorable competitive bid that adhered to all laid down criteria and intense lobbying to maximise its chances.

Other countries that were vying for the position includes Ghana, Egypt, Madagascar, eSwatini. Senegal and Ethiopia withdrew from the race.

The Africa free-trade agreement removing most tariffs and other commercial barriers in the continent is now operational, after receiving a nod from 54 member states and 27 countries including Kenya ratifying the pact.

The actual boarder free trade is expected to start in July 2020 to give member states time to adopt the new framework.

“We haven’t yet agreed on rules of origin and tariff confessions, but the framework we have is enough to start trading on July 1, 2020,’’ African Union’s commissioner for trade and industry Albert Muchanga said in a statement to media.