I was privileged to be at the handing over ceremony of the Africa Trade House to the AU and AfCFTA Secretariat. The speeches alone, from the President of the Republic of Ghana, to the Chair of the AU Commission, to the Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area, evoked several leadership lessons as highlighted below.
- Decisiveness is key in leadership. Ghana was the first to offer to host the secretariat, and of course, having other pre-requisites in place, was commonly approved as the host country.
- Speed provides a competitive advantage for one player, but also accelerates growth of an entire industry, country or population. If Africa moves fast in its implementation, the AfCFTA has the potential to massively increase trade revenues of its member states.
- Collaboration is critical, if not absolutely necessary. The AfCFTA could not come into being without a minimum of 21 member states signing up and ratifying the agreement.
- Every cause needs a champion. All the speeches included appreciation of the role played by the AU champion in consistently pushing forth the agenda of an African free trade area.
- It is necessary for participants to understand and then rally behind a common vision. This is a process that might take a while, but constant communication around and repetition of the vision will eventually draw people in.
- Understanding of the risks and drawing up of mitigation plans should be in place from the onset. COVID-19, a completely unexpected occurrence, derailed implementation plans, particularly around timing, but it has also presented several opportunities which should be capitalised upon.
Vision, championing, decisiveness, speed, collaboration, and planning…. Six regular words in leadership speak, but when combined, can prove a powerful force.
It is a proud moment for Ghana but moreover for Africa as the continent seeks to reach its potential as a leader in global trade. There’s a long road ahead, but no excuses for failure, only potential reasons for success. Africa has what it takes.