Towards Greater Integration Series

Presented by Leaders of Africa
April - May 2021

The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement presents a major opportunity for African countries to promote inclusive growth and sustainable development as well as eradicate extreme poverty. Against the backdrop of global skepticism of integration (e.g., the European Union), the desire to integrate the African continent stands out. The month-long project administered by the Leaders of Africa Institute will produce a policy paper describing the AfCFTA, its implementation, the potential benefits of pan-African integration, and the reforms needed to achieve long-term economic growth and political stability for African countries.

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Key Questions

  • What is the AfCFTA? And, what are the present plans for implementation
  • What are the reasons behind the desire to further integrate under AfCFTA? What are the sources of skepticism?
  • Are there and should there be prerequisites for integration (e.g., economic and political characteristics)?
  • Do African countries have the supportive infrastructure and policies to boost trading with one another?
  • How are governments amending their domestic trade policies and political systems to accommodate the AfCFTA?
  • What is citizens’ understanding of the AfCFTA? What are the plans for enhancing citizens’ understanding of the AfCFTA?
  • How does the AfCFTA hope to promote pan-African integration and address issues associated with greater integration, such as the free movement of goods and people (and concerns of xenophobia)?
  • Who are winners and losers from the AfCFTA? Who and what is likely to benefit and not benefit in the short and long-term?
  • What are the specific influences of the AfCFTA on citizens’ livelihoods?
  • How can the AfCFTA be a win-win situation for all African countries (e.g., small economies such as Togo and The Gambia) and domestic economic groups?

Understanding the AfCFTA

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Learn about the Panelists

“Trade not aid will develop Africa.” This is Rose’s mantra and guiding principle as she facilitates the implementation of the CFTA in Kenya. As part of KenTrade, she has played many roles including Chairperson of the Information and Transparency Sub-Committee of the National Trade Facilitation Committee which is responsible for the implementation of the World Trade Organization agreements and guidelines.

Maame bridges the fields of economics and international law as an expert in both. For years, she has been an advocate for deeper and meaningful integration on the trade front in Ghana and beyond. Maame is presently a consultant at Blackbridge Consulting Group in Ghana.

Oheneba is an international trade and business development expert based in Ghana. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Global Afrique.

Kweku is a lecturer and international trade and investment expert focused on commercial sales and transactions.

The AfCFTA is the biggest trade agreement on the African continent, and its successful implementation is estimated to boost intra-African trade by 52.3% by 2022 and add $3 trillion in GDP annually. The AfCFTA also presents a great opportunity for African countries to diversify their economies. In effect, more trade could spark a move away from an over-dependence on natural resource exports and lead to an economy that increasingly relies on value-added products that enable job creation. How can the AfCTFA contribute to this reality? What is the AfCTFA? Are African countries ready to embrace the AfCFTA?

Barriers to Implementing the AfCFTA

Most African countries have limited infrastructure capabilities and the inefficiencies of infrastructure projects such as roads have a consequential impact on trade. This is one of many barriers to implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) fully and in a timely manner. In particular, we will look at the infrastructural, gender, and movement of people (e.g., passports and identity) challenges — among others. How might gender mainstreaming confront challenges to integration? One of the major takeaways is that integration must be inclusive.

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Learn about the Presenters

Nadira Bayat is a Gender and Trade Expert with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). She has served in various roles in other United Nations agencies, including the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and continentally with African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. In addition, she has also held senior positions in the South African Government, including as Counsellor: Multilateral at the Embassy of South Africa in Washington, DC.

Louis Yaw Afful is the Group Executive Director of the AfCFTA Policy Network (APN). The AfCFTA Policy Network Group is a burgeoning international NGO focused on promoting free trade and the implementation of the AfCFTA. Louis is an international trade practitioner and serves on several international boards such as the GLOBAL Chamber of Commerce and is a member of the Ghana Chamber of SMEs. He is also a member of the Technical Working Group of AfCFTA of the Ministry of Trade and Industry in Ghana.

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