Chairman of McDan Group of Companies, Daniel McKorley has indicated that for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to succeed “People not the state should matter, Business not politics should be prioritized.”
According to him, there should be facilitation, and that barriers or obstruction should not be promoted since efforts in making AfCFTA work should big thinking of the people beyond mediocrity.
Daniel McKorley made this assertion during a honorific public lecture held in his honour under the Theme: ‘Creating The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs Through AfCFTA,’ at the University of Professional Studies (UPSA) in Accra.
He averred that all efforts must be made to deconstruct the state and move beyond it, adding that the AU passport cannot wait any longer as African leaders do what they have done in the last 58 years by “slow talk us into progress as we lag behind.”
Daniel McKorley said the AfCFTA secretariat should lead the charge since this might be the time it adopts a business pass as a stop gap measure pending the roll out of the passport.
He commended the UPSA Law School, and indicated that Like the AFCTA, he celebrate leadership and that the school has witnessed a remarkable transformation within a short time and it has assumed leadership in the legal educational space as its dean mirrors the leadership of the future.
He announced at the event that, subject to the necessary approvals by the appropriate bodies, he is granting a Center or African Trade at the UPSA Law School to lead the charge on trade research, policy conversation, training and capacity building and coordinating of initiatives with the AfCFTA on the continent.
“Allied to this, I am also establishing an annual awards scheme for enterpreneurs and business leaders starting from this year,” he said.
McDan who also celebrated his 50th Birthday on the day said, he had occasions to be thankful to many people, and looking back with gratitude to God and into the horizon with the hope of the new Africa in which he hopes to play a role and benefit.
“I have never celebrated any appointment by the AU like I celebrated the appointment of Wamkele. An appointment marked by youth, exuberance, and energy for the task at hand. For a trade ambassador, he is fit for purpose and it is a testament to good judgment that the AU chose him,” he said.
He expressed gratitude for the honours and mentioned that “I look on the tribute not as an accomplishment of an end, but an inspiration to do more.”
Meanwhile, at the end of the program, he handed over a bus that the McDan Foundation has donated to the UPSA Law School.
Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat, WamkeleMene who delivered the lecture on the topic: The AfCFTA and the New Age of African Enterprise, said until the economic fallout of the Covid-19 global pandemic pushed Africa into its first recession in over 25 years in 2020, the continent had experienced a steady and unprecedented economic growth since the early 2000s.
Unemployment and inequality, he said, have remained high and that Africa needs to industrialize to create jobs.
“Indications are that 10 to 12 million young Africans join the labour force each year, yet the continent creates only 3.7 million jobs annually. By 2035, more young people will be entering Africa’s workforce each year than in the rest of the globe combined, according to the IMF. Many countries, businesses and organizations have begun to address this problem, using tools from progressive policy-making to innovative finance. However, over 60 percent of young people across Africa still remain unemployed.”
According to him, Africa’s industrialization policies rest on manufacturing, since manufacturing is the “engine of growth” that enhances higher levels of productivity and greater technical change, thus creating more jobs with higher wages for both women and men.
He averred that Industrialization in Africa can therefore not happen without its entrepreneurs and also continental economic integration, stressing that Entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are critical to every economy by creating innovative goods and jobs, promoting a competitive environment and economic growth, and facilitating income distribution.
He said: “SMEs have a critical role to play in accelerating economic development, serving the unmet needs of African markets, and especially creating jobs. The World Bank, for example, estimates that SMEs are responsible for 77 percent of all jobs in Africa and as much as half of GDP in some countries. Surveys have revealed that in Ghana, for instance, micro, small and medium enterprises account for 92% of businesses and contribute about 70% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In Nigeria, SMEs account for 96% of businesses, 48% of GDP and 84% of employment, while in South Africa, the second largest economy in Africa, account for 91% of businesses, 34% of GDP, and 60% of employment.”
Speaking on the Vision of AfCFTA and its importance in development of Africa’s new age of enterprise, WamkeleMene said the AfCFTA creates a three-trillion-dollar market opportunity with a population of more than one billion people, largely youthful and very talented and it is designed to create a tariff-free, quota-free continent that can boost intra-African trade and investment, grow local businesses, stimulate industrialization and create jobs for the continent’s teeming, youthful population.
“The AfCFTA therefore provides an institutional mechanism to address these trade barriers across the continent and move to a closer integration of all members. Phase I of the AfCFTA aims to reduce significantly, tariffs and non-tariff barriers to goods and advance in the liberalization of trade in services. Phase II, involves agreements on investment, competition policy and intellectual property (IP) rights, while Phase III will involve provisions on e-commerce. The expectation is that negotiations on all these phases will be completed by the end of 2021.”
He concluded that AfCFTA is creating a new narrative that should inspire talented African youth, living in any part of the continent, from Algeria to Zimbabwe, to imagine opportunities across the value chain and to pursue entrepreneurship in the various sectors.