African Union votes South Africa’s Wamkele Mene as Secretary-General of AfCFTA Secretariat

The heads of state and government of the African Union have voted Wamkele Mene as the first Secretary-General of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat (AfCFTA).

Wamkele Mene

The South African, was elected at the ongoing 33rd ordinary session of the heads of state and government of the African Union.

Mene was elected after Nigeria tried to prevent his appointment by putting up arguments in favour of their preferred candidate, Cecilia Akintomide, a banker from their country.

As part of his responsibilities, Mene will be in charge of the day-to-day operations of the newly created continental trade body which has its office in Accra.

The AfCFTA will oversee the implementation of a tariff-free trade regime when it takes off in July this year.

The 40-year-old has worked as the Head of Mission to the World Trade Organisation for South Africa.

He was South Africa’s Chief Negotiator in the African Continental Free Trade Area Negotiations.

Before he took this position, Wamkele was a senior trade diplomat, negotiating on behalf of South Africa at the World Trade Organisation.

He holds an LL.M in Banking Law and Financial Regulation from the London School of Economics and Political Science; an M.A. in International Studies & Diplomacy from the School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS), University of London; and a B.A. Law from Rhodes University.”

One hundred and twenty-five candidates applied for the job. They were all African citizens.

Three former diplomats were shortlisted for the final pick to head the secretariat. They were Cecilia Akintomide from Nigeria, South African Wamkele Mene and Faustin Luanga from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The African Continental Free Trade Area is a single market Duty-free Quota-free trading bloc covering the entire African Continent with a total population of about 1.2 billion and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of almost US$3 trillion. The operational phase of the Agreement was formally launched on 7th July 2019 at the African Union Summit in Niamey, Niger.

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