Vice-President Opens 74th Annual New Year School & Conference

The Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency Alhaji Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia has called on key stakeholders including industries, private sector, academia and government to promote the efforts of the AfCFTA in order to reposition Ghana through trade in the recent economically challenging times. 

He made these comments when he opened the 74th Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYS & C) at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana, which was chaired by the Chancellor of the University, Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse. 

"The coming into force of the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area)  means that, Africa now has the world's largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization", the Vice President stated. 

The Vice President asserted that the AfCFTA will help continental trade to be undertaken in a more modern and sophisticated manner as well as offering a huge opportunity to exploit the abundant wealth and resources of our great continent for the benefit of our people. 

Vice-President, Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia

He noted that the coming into force and successful implementation of the AfCFTA ties in perfectly with the vision of moving the country to a self-reliant Ghana that is freeing itself from a mindset of dependency and charity and is determined to make intelligent, disciplined use of her considerable resources, the basis for her growth and prosperity. 

H.E. Dr. Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia listed various achievements of the nation so far and announced government's plans to provide every SHS student in the country, one tablet each loaded with textbooks and past questions.  

This year’s School and Conference was under the theme, ‘Positioning the African Market for Sustainable Economic Development through AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area)’ and organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education (SCDE) under the College of Education, University of Ghana.  

A cross-section of participants at the Opening

In her introductory remarks as Chairperson, the Chancellor of the University, Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse, acknowledged the dedication of the School of Distance Learning and Education for sustaining the Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYS&C) concept for 74 consecutive years. 

She stated the ANYS&C continues to serve as a forum for important conversations pertaining to issues on national development by bringing together different professionals from different settings such as national and local government agencies, academia and private sector organizations and others to deliberate on national and global issues. 

Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse explained that the successful implementation of AfCFTA was a sign that Africa was on the course of history since the AfCFTA has transitioned from a mere rhetoric which African leaders used to discuss, to a state of reality. 

Chancellor, Mrs. Mary Chinery-Hesse

She stated that it is anticipated that with the creation of a single continental market, there would be a scramble for brand recognition. She therefore expressed the hope that the deliberations at the conference will ponder on how to create an attractive, identifiable brand which will build loyalty for Ghana. 

She further encouraged the School to leverage on the hosting of the AfCFTA secretariat in Accra, to create opportunities for expanding businesses and also devise strategies on how to benefit from AfCFTA’s stated aim of lifting 30 million people out of extreme poverty. 

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, in her address, said “African leaders in recent decades have championed the need for regional economic cooperation, particularly in terms of trade and investment. The launch of the AfCFTA in 2021 is, therefore, highly touted as a global game changer; it is a crucial milestone for Africa as it constitutes a significant endorsement in the economic potential of intra-Africa trade.” 

She noted that it was the anticipation of the University that this year’s New Year School and Conference would lead the way in helping to identify models that would enhance the regional economic cooperation and integration through free trade that we envisage would lead to a prosperous continent. 

Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo

Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo also took the opportunity to appeal to individuals and corporate institutions to support initiatives the University is undertaking, especially the on-going efforts to modernize its lecture rooms, provide laptops for needy students, and construct hotspot comfort zones on campus. 

The General-Secretary of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), His Excellency Wamkele Mene, in delivering the keynote address, lauded the tradition of the Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYS & C) to serve as a unique forum for policy makers, academia, corporate institutions and people from diverse backgrounds to engage in discussions on critical issues of national interest, for the development of Ghana. 

He noted that this year’s theme is timely and appropriate given the momentum that has been developed so far in the implementation of the AfCFTA with the objective to catalyze Africa’s economic transformation.  


General-Secretary of AfCFTA, H.E Wamkele Mene

He stated that the dependence of Africa on trade with the outside world and substantial concentration of export of primary commodities had made the continent vulnerable to external macroeconomic shocks, citing the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict as examples of harmful implications of the existing global and multi-lateral structure of trade as an impact on Africa. 

H.E. Wamkele Mene, therefore, stressed the importance of an intra-continental trade in Africa to reduce its vulnerability to external shocks and also improve economic trade and performance which the AfCFTA has to be the driver of that particular objective.  

A cross-section of participants at the Opening

He asserted that given the relatively small sizes of economies in Africa, the effective participation of African countries in the ever evolving international trade environment remains central to boosting the continent’s growth development and prospects. 

The Chairman of the Annual New Year School and Conference Advisory Team (ANYSCAT), Hon. Sam Okudzeto, in giving his statement appealed for more support from corporate institutions and individuals to help realise the success of the committee whose main objective is to ensure that Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYS&C) becomes an autonomous institution that funds itself to ensure that there is a proper dissemination of knowledge and information. 

He stated that the conference will provide the platform to enable the discussion and contribution of AfCFTA through the socio-economic growth of not just Ghana but the whole continent of Africa. 

Chairman of ANYSCAT, Hon. Sam Okudzeto

Hon. Sam Okudzeto stated that one market in Africa is key and attainable as this will provide the alternative of importing goods and commodities from one African country to another instead of importing goods and commodities from European countries. 

The Chairman of ANYSCAT also lauded the addition of the Youth School for the first time to the ANYS as a remarkable and visionary focus for the development of the next generation of leaders which is a great foundation for sustainable economic development of mother Ghana. 

The Chairman & CEO of McDan Group of Companies, Mr. Daniel McKorley in his statement stated that despite the challenges of economic growth and development issues that are faced by Ghana, he fervently hoped that the issues of yesterday will become tomorrow’s opportunities. 

Chairman & CEO of McDan Group of Companies, Mr. Daniel McKorley

Mr. Mckorley stated that he sees opportunity in the AfCFTA because a boost in international trade will enable the private sector in multiple African countries to thrive. 

He noted that small businesses do not build big nations but big businesses do, hence Ghanaians with big businesses as a result of the thriving of the private sector will encourage the growth of small businesses, which will become the true engine of the nation. 

Mr. McKorley also noted a few activities which will contribute to the successful impact of AfCFTA which includes immersion in the requisite knowledge, second-solid partnerships and the youth. 

Participants of the opening ceremony were thrilled with some cultural dances and musical interludes by the Ghana Dance Ensemble and the Ghana Police Band. 

In attendance at the 74th ANYS&C opening ceremony were the Chief of Staff, Hon. Frema Opare and other government officials; some members of the University Council, College Advisory Boards, members of the diplomatic corps, religious and traditional leaders, students, alumni and friends of the University.