Continuing to collaborate and work closely with its member States, the African Union Commission and other key interest groups towards the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would Africa build her economy better and expedite her economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has said.
The AfCFTA developed by the 54 member countries of the African Union is expected to help deepen and expand intra-African trade and help the continent build her economy better going forward.
In reaction to the recent unveiling of a $15.2 million funding to the ECA’s African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) by the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, the Executive Secretary of ECA, Vera Songwe, said the AfCFTA has provided an excellent policy framework for Africa to build inclusive and resilient economies post-COVID-19.
To make this happen, she said the ECA would continue to work on innovative ways to help address Africa’s development challenges, by assisting countries and regions to domesticate the AfCFTA within their own realities to make it implementable.
“Canada’s on-going contribution to this trade-related technical assistance has enabled a significant expansion of ECA’s support to the AfCFTA process, particularly focusing on inclusion and gender equality as specific objectives of the grant agreement,” Songwe said.
The ECA, she said, was grateful for Canada’s continuing support to the ECA, particularly its work in the implementation of the AfCFTA agenda.
“With Canada’s funding support, and working closely with AU member States, the African Union Commission and other key stakeholders on the continent, we will continue to strive for the achievement of a more gender-inclusive trade agenda for Africa. We will also continue to pay attention to the role of the private sector in the implementation of the AfCFTA,” the ECA Executive Secretary said.
On his part, ATPC Coordinator, David Luke, said: “The grant will enable the Centre to carry out analytical work, training and capacity building interventions for reducing trade barriers within Africa, including for women entrepreneurs and traders; and develop climate-friendly strategies for a forward-looking implementation of the AfCFTA.”
Trudeau made the announcement on the new funding at the recently concluded Summit on Financing African Economies was hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France.
He said the Canadian funds would support the implementation of the AfCFTA, a key milestone in African economic integration that would help create jobs and accelerate growth across the continent.
The AfCFTA is set to become the largest Free Trade Area (FTA) in the global economy, covering a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, expected to reach $29 trillion by 2050.
In his summit address, Prime Minister Trudeau announced additional support for hard-hit African economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, including $5 million to the Regional Disease Surveillance Systems Enhancement Programme through the World Bank, to strengthen national and regional capacity for disease surveillance and epidemic preparedness in West Africa, and to provide immediate and effective response in the event of emergencies.
“We can’t defeat this virus and build back better at home unless all countries have the resources to respond to and recover from this global challenge. With some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and with some of the youngest populations on the planet, Africa’s success and recovery is key to our shared future. Only together can we lay the foundations of a better world,” he said.
The Summit on Financing African Economies brought together heads of state and government from Africa and around the world to respond to the specific financing needs to support a prompt, green, sustainable and inclusive recovery in Africa.