The coming into force of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) marked a turning point for Africa’s economic development. The trade zone, in the making for nearly half a century is the largest in the WTO’s 25-year history, is a 1.3 billion people market, majority of whom are young.
The combined spending and investment power of the zone at the time of AfCFTA’s ratification was estimated to be $3.5-4 trillion, creating an important economic bloc, coming on the heels of on an African economy that was set to grow at about 3.4 % in 2019 and projected to increase to 3.9% in 2020.
AfCFTA is meant to eliminate 90% of tariffs and create a single market with free movement of goods and services. This is expected to significantly boost intra-African trade and ultimately induce a stronger economic collaboration between member countries. Intracontinental trade was expected to increase by 52% as a result. The AfCFTA secretariat hoped to conclude enough technical work to enable the commencement of trade by July 1, 2020.
And then COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the global economy came to the gridding halt. Global markets account for 88% of Africa’s exports, mostly in oil, mineral resources and agricultural commodities. Public-finance-anchored economic stimulus packages are the dominant engines of rebooting a devastated global economy across Africa’s partners from Europe to China.
So, where does AfCFTA go from here?
Objective of Session
The session aims to explore what role the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will play in Africa’s economic recovery post-COVID.
Eunice is the Economist and Development Coordination officer for the United Nations in Namibia (UNN). Prior to that, she was the Economic Affairs Officer with the Macroeconomics and Governance Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She led and contributed to high-level policy development and programme implementation through instruments including the flagship Economic Report on Africa; the African Governance Report; and other non-recurrent policy studies...
Antoine Kajangwe is a trade and investment policy professional with the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Rwanda. Antoine oversees the Ministry’s domestic and international trade and investment-related matters, intellectual property rights, consumer protection and competition laws and policies. Antoine is also the Ministry’s chief trade negotiator and a senior trade official....
Pierre Guislain, a Belgian national, provides advisory services on private sector development, infrastructure, ICT and related matters in Emerging Markets. Prior, he was the Vice-President of Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialisation at the African Development Bank Group; his areas of responsibility at the Bank also included the financial sector, trade, urban development and information and communication technologies....
Ikenna Ugwu | Moderator
Ikenna Ugwu is a Masters in Public Policy candidate ‘21 at the School for Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Ikenna has more than 10 years professional experience in the field of international development, cutting across three continents-Africa, Asia and Europe. With the United Nations World Food Programme, he has worked in difficult and war ravaged countries, contributing to the organization's vision of saving lives and changing lives. He holds a master's degree in human development and food security as well as communications.