Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, has urged African countries to take advantage of opportunities presented by the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
According to the minister, African states have not fully taken advantage of AGOA which was introduced 18 years ago.
Mr Kyerematen made the call on Monday in Accra at the opening session of the AGOA capacity building and skills development workshop organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), African Union Commission and African Development Bank.
The workshop brought together participants from about 33 African states, including Benin, Lesotho, Central African Republic, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau and Botswana.
It sought to assist AGOA beneficiary countries to develop the necessary competencies to enhance their respective AGOA utilization strategies, among others.
He urged the private sector on the continent to take AGOA seriously, saying that African governments have for a very long time failed to properly utilize AGOA for the development of the continent.
He stated that the under-utilization of AGOA was due to lack of strategy to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the programme.
The AGOA is a United States Trade Act, enacted May 18, 2000 as Public Law 106 of the 200th Congress.
AGOA has since been extended to 2025.
The legislation significantly enhances market access to the US for African countries.
Mr Kyerematen was of the view that AGOA could have transformed Africa economically if the governments had ‘wisely’ used it.
He urged African states not to repeat the mistakes of the past 18 years since AGOA programme is expected to end by 2025.
“We have to learn from the experiences of the past to guide our future.”
He stressed the need for African governments to invest aggressively in the industrialization projects in order to manufacture products that will enable them make better use of AGOA.
Mr Kyerematen indicated that “for effective utilization of AGOA for accelerated inclusive growth and economic development, there is the need for African Union Member States and private sector operators to work together as stakeholders and strategic partners to unpack and address the complexities of AGOA, whilst ensuring that the benefits of AGOA lead to mutual gains for all state parties, regardless of their peculiarities and level of development.”
According to the Minister, the AGOA framework could also play a significant role in supporting the diversification of African economies.
Coordinator of African Trade Policy Center, UNECA, David Luke, reiterated that the ultimate aims of the AGOA had not been achieved.
“AGOA is not working as expected and beneficiary countries must look at the issue of human capacity building,” he added.