Two key members of Ghana’s delegation to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), Mr. Joseph Osei-Owusu and Mr. Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, have urged Africans, particularly Ghanaian businessmen and women, to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and patronise the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) to facilitate the agreement. 

This came up when the delegation engaged members of the African Parliamentary Press Network (APPN) on the activities of PAP, in Accra.

One of the functions of the Pan-African Parliament is to facilitate and oversee the implementation of policies, objectives, and programmes of the African Union (AU). The AfCFTA is one of the flagship programmes of the AU, so what is Ghana’s delegation to PAP doing to ensure the country benefits from the agreement.

The Leader of Ghana’s delegation to PAP, Mr. Joseph Osei-Owusu recalled that at their last plenary meeting, there was a workshop on the AfCFTA, where members discussed at length how business people in their specific countries could take advantage of the agreement and fully benefit from it.

“If you are not careful, we will glow in the thinking that the headquarters is in our country, therefore naturally opportunities will flow, no. You have to take advantage of the rules and laid-down regulations in order to be able to get the advantages,” he said.

It is, however, evident that Ghana’s business community has not received enough sensitisation on the AfCFTA. Mr. Osei-Owusu, who is also the First Deputy Speaker of Ghana’s Parliament, acknowledged this challenge and assured that his team is ready to lead the advocacy on the AfCFTA.

“This delegation will make it part of our responsibility to lead the advocacy, help the Ministry of Trade, and the Committee on Trade get the needed materials and information, and push them to be talking to those who can take advantage,” the Leader told GBC’s Rachel Quartey.

Mr. Joseph Osei-Owusu noted that it is important for Ghana to monitor products that are brought in, determine their country of origin, and deepen local entrepreneurship and local production in order to benefit from the agreement.

Mr. Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka, who is the Chairperson of the Finance Committee at PAP, was, on the other hand, concerned about the low patronage of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS).

He encouraged Africans to choose PAPSS over SWIFT, which is Western. “One of the very important aspects of the AfCFTA that we have to draw the attention of our businessmen to is the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System; we call it the PAPSS. It is already working very effectively between Ghana and Nigeria, where you just pay with your Cedis and the Nigerian will receive in his Naira.”

He remarked that the PAPSS is going to be one of the biggest challenges for the American/European payment system – the SWIFT. 

“Now they are trying hard to frustrate the PAPSS and come into the PAPSS, and we in Pan-African Parliament have reiterated again and again to AfCFTA, the day you allow any of these, whether Mastercard or whatever, to come unto PAPSS, you will collapse the system,” he warned.

Mr. Muntaka said Africans must put pressure on their financial institutions, like Ecobank, to take an interest in the PAPSS. He explained that there is no need for Africans to convert their monies to Dollar or Euro before transacting business.

Mr. Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka finally touched on the need for Africans to develop their own trade routes.

“If I want to buy something from Senegal, I’m told sometimes it has to go all the way to Europe before it will come to Ghana. Meanwhile we are all in the same zone. It is only when we ourselves increase the trade among us that those routes will be developed, and it will come at a cost,” he explained.

This means that Africans must understand and be ready to bear the additional time delay and cost it takes for goods to be transferred within the continent. This, Mr. Muntaka believes, will help develop African trade routes to facilitate the AfCFTA.

These, they highlighted, are some of the advocacies that the Ghana Delegation to the Pan-African Parliament will be doing to ensure that the business community and the country as a whole benefit from the AfCFTA.