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Newly elected AfCFTA SG Wamkele Mene ready to hit the ground running

The 43-year-old South African was elected after Nigeria challenged his nomination.

Wamkele Mene was chief negotiator in the African Continental Free Trade Area for South Africa and a former trade diplomat at World Trade Organisation. Picture: LinkedIn

ADDIS ABABA - Newly elected secretary-general of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) Wamkele Mene said his appointment showed the African Union (AU) emphasised merit above politics.

The 43-year-old South African was elected after Nigeria challenged his nomination. He said his appointment proved that young people had a valuable contribution to make to the economic development of the continent.

Mene was in Pretoria when the AU heads of state meeting in Addis Ababa made him secretary-general of the AfCFTA. He led South Africa’s negotiations towards signing the agreement.

Mene said he would hit the ground running in his new role.

“We have to roll up our sleeves and work. [The] Priority will be to ensure that implementation instruments required are in place by 1 July,” he said.

Mene already served at the World Trade Organisation.

Nigeria tried to block his appointment but he was not phased by this.

“It means we place merit and experience above politics when we elect senior leaders in the AU,” Mene said.

“I’m acutely aware of the responsibility on my shoulders to ensure that young people leaders are able to deliver and make a significant contribution,” he added.

Mene will be based in Ghana where the AfCFTA will be headquartered.

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