President Muhammadu Buhari, nine other African Heads of State and Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank (AfDB) have received awards for their contributions to the kick-off of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The award ceremony was organised virtually by the African Union (AU) with the private sector in the AU headquarters at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday.
Awards were also given to heads of institutions for their roles in the enforcement of the AfCFTA.
The presidents given the awards were Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, Akufo-Addo of Ghana; Felix Tshekedi of Congo; Ahmed Fattah Al-Sisi of Egypt and Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger.
Others were, Presidents Alpha Conde of Guinea; Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa and Chairperson of the AU; and Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
Other country leaders who also received awards were, King Mswati III, Ngwenyama of Eswatini and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia.
Two former heads of states, Mr Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria were presented with awards.
The President, Africa Business Council (AfBC), Ms Amany Asfour, was also presented with an award for her role in that respect.
Some heads of African institutions and other prominent individuals were also awarded for their exceptional contributions to the AfCFTA process.
The awards were received by the various countries’ ambassadors and representatives of institutions present.
The organisers also promised to send the others through courier services to the recipients.
One of the award recipients, Ms Amany Asfour said the ceremony showed the commitment of the private sector towards the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063.
“We need an architecture where the organised private sector would cater for the implementation of the AfCFTA and it is such a pleasure now it has been constituted by the efforts of the AU Commission,” she said.
Asfour also urged the players in the private sector to ensure the implementation of the policies regarding the agreement.
“We need the legislation that will make it happen with the AfCFTA, the policies can be on paper but the implementation is our role as the private sector.
“It is a must to empower our Small and Medium Enterprises, youths and women. We are the richest continent in the world but we need to manage our own resources,” she said.
In her remarks, Mrs Saratu Aliyu, President, Federation of West Africa Chambers of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (FEWACCI) appreciated governments, private sector players and contributors to the success of the AfCFTA implementation.
Aliyu expressed optimism that the agreement would promote e-commerce and e-business infrastructure and develop a roadmap for the development of a digital economy to support the growth in member states.
She further reiterated the support of FEWACCI to achieving economic development and growth in Africa.