Accra, 16 July 2021 – The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the African Union (AU), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) announce the unveiling of a statue in honour of His Excellency Issoufou Mahamadou, former President of the Republic of Niger and African Union Champion of the AfCFTA in Accra, Ghana.
The statue is in commemoration of H.E. Issoufou Mahamadou’s pivotal leadership and Pan-African vision in driving the realisation of the AfCFTA. His key achievements in this respect include successfully leading the conclusion of the AfCFTA negotiations as AU Champion for AfCFTA; its entry into force; the launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA; the 1st January 2021 start of trading under the AfCFTA; thus being pivotal in placing industrialisation, market liberalisation, economic diversification and economic integration at the centre of the African Union’s agenda.
H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General, African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, said: “His Excellency Issoufou Mahamadou went to great lengths to lead and oversee the establishment and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. This statue provides a lasting commemoration of his pivotal role both for today’s and for future generations of Africans. It represents a symbol for the collective effort and courage of African leaders in achieving that landmark. The AfCFTA provides Africa with immense opportunities for the industrialisation, diversification and economic development that will rapidly accelerate our continent to truly global competitiveness across multiple sectors.”
Professor Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors, Afreximbank, said: “The AfCFTA is therefore not only the most significant development in Africa since the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, but also, the world’s second largest Free Trade Area, after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in terms of the number of member states. The AfCFTA will bring together 55 African countries with over 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion into a single free trade market. It was made possible by the vision, tenacity, courage and commitment of African leaders, the hard work of the African Union Commission and indeed the contributions of many from across the Continent. The AfCFTA provides the launchpad for Africa to genuinely compete as a major global economic powerhouse and substantially raise its market share of both intra-African and world trade in the years and decades ahead.”
The statue of H.E. Issoufou Mahamadou is sited at the AfCFTA Secretariat Building in Accra, Ghana, and was commissioned by the AfCFTA Secretariat, Afreximbank, and the African Union Commission.
The statue, which was unveiled at a ceremony on 16th July, is a product of Afreximbank’s Art Programme, which supports and promotes the African contemporary art ecosystem. In this regard, with the assistance of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Mr. Tafadzwa Tandi was selected to sculpt the statue. He used Black Serpentine Stone, relying on an ancient tradition of stone sculpting that can be traced back to the ancient Great Zimbabwe Kingdom (13th to 15th Century), which has morphed into a very popular contemporary art movement in Zimbabwe and is recognised all over the world for its craftmanship and skill.
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About the African continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement was signed on 21 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda and entered into force on 30 May 2019 following receipt of the requisite number of ratifications required for it to come into force. Trading under liberalized and preferential terms of the agreement was consequently set to begin 1 July 2020, but had to be postponed due to delays as a result of the unanticipated COVID 19 pandemic. Trading under the Agreement eventually kicked off 1 January 2021. The Agreement seeks to create a single market for goods and services, promote industrialisation of the Continent and reduce reliance on trading of primary commodities while ensuring development, sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth of Africa and her people in keeping to African Union Agenda 2063 – the Africa We Want. The AfCFTA Agreement has been signed by 54 of 55 African countries and has been ratified by 40 countries just as more countries are expected to also ratify in the coming weeks. It boosts of a huge market of over 1.3 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion.
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African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade. Afreximbank deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. The Bank has a rich history of intervening in support of African countries in times of crisis. Through the Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) launched in April 2020, Afreximbank has disbursed more than US$6.5 billion in 2020 to help member countries manage the adverse impact of financial, economic, and health shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A stalwart supporter of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Afreximbank has completed the development of a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA. Afreximbank is working with the AU and the AfCFTA Secretariat to develop an Adjustment Facility to support countries in effectively participating in the AfCFTA. At the end of 2020, the Bank’s total assets and guarantees stood at US$21.5 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to US$3.4 billion. Afreximbank disbursed more than US$42 billion between 2016 and 2020. The Bank has ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A-), Moody’s (Baa1) and Fitch (BBB-). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.
For more information, visit: www.afreximbank.com.
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