(L-R) UK’s Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford; Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene and UK’s International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan during the visit of the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat to London… recently.
The UK government on Thursday announced a £35million support to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) for the implementation of various trade policies negotiations and facilitation programmes in member states.
The new support package was announced by the UK’s Department for International Trade Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, during a meeting between the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, and the UK’s Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, in London to discuss how the UK can continue its work as Africa’s strategic trade partner.
Under AfCTFA, about 30 million people are expected to be lifted out of extreme poverty, create jobs, and provide new commercial opportunities for businesses across Africa and the UK.
Through the AfCFTA Support Programme, Trevelyan said the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) would support trade facilitation and policy to the AfCFTA Secretariat and Member States through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and other regional partners.
As the world’s largest free trade area, the UK government said AfCFTA has the potential to boost Africa’s economic growth, by driving industrialisation, generating jobs and delivering prosperity across the continent.
For UK businesses, the UK believes the trade bloc would remove market access barriers, by creating a single continental market, making it easier and more cost-effective for UK businesses to export goods and services across the 54 AfCFTA member states.
“As an independent free trading nation, the UK strongly supports the AfCFTA – the largest free trade area in the world.
“We’re keen to see continued momentum on outstanding negotiations, and on practical implementation of the agreement on the ground.
“This new aid programme shows that t} rade is a force for good, and will lead to increased trade, investment, and prosperity for both Africa and the UK,” Trevelyan said.
The Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, expressed appreciation with
the support from the UK government, saying it ushers both into a new partnership for strengthening cooperation related to customs and trade facilitation and trade policy across the African continent.
He said in the last five years, the Africa has seen the re-engineering of its regional economic communities, taking into consideration the aspirations embedded in the AfCFTA instruments.
“We have also witnessed during this period the enthusiasm and the energy of our private sector to rise to the occasion and begin to exploit what is provided for in the Agreement.
“Our ambition now is to see commercially meaningful trading in ‘Made in the AfCFTA’ products taking place, across the length and breadth of our continent, to create jobs and economic opportunities for Africans, especially women and the youth.
“We want to make trade easier for the Africans, in particular our women and young Africans who trade across our borders.
“This new AfCFTA support programme is, therefore, timely to facilitate the implementation of the AfCFTA, through supporting national implementation committees and regional economic communities,” he said.
Minister for Africa Vicky Ford said the UK was a committed partner in building closer integration between African economies, boost growth across the continent, create opportunities and help lift people out of poverty.
The UK funding, she said, would promote long-term partnerships between African countries and support a more prosperous, greener continent.
“I am delighted to be supporting the AfCFTA Secretariat and its Member States to deliver freer and fairer trade systems in Africa,” she said.
The AfCFTA Support programme builds on existing work from the FCDO and DIT Trade for Development unit to strengthen partnerships and resilience in Africa.
Under the UK’s G7 presidency last year, the new British Investment International (BII) group pledged to work with other G7 Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to invest at least $80 billion in the African private sector by 2027.
Support for projects in Africa from UK Export Finance also provides backing for a range of infrastructure projects in countries from Côte d’Ivoire to Uganda, with more than £2.3 billion of financial support in 2021.
The Programme also complements the UK’s broader partnership with the African Union as a multilateral institution to promote global values.