AfCFTA member states must automate systems for smooth trade – IT and trade experts


Countries participating in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement must ensure they have all automated their systems in order to deal with trade barriers and issues of dumping to make the establishment of the bloc successful, technology and trade experts have advised.

Speaking at a virtual event themed: ‘Technology and Trade in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities’, Comptroller, Modernization, ICT and Risk Management for Nigeria, Adekunle Oloyede, emphasised the need for all countries to take automation seriously, as failure on the part of some will affect the seamless flow of trade under the AfCFTA agreement.

“If we are automated fully and other countries are not, then, this will bring a lot of barriers, because how do we guide against dumping? With automation and good technology, we will be able to have success in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.

A lot of problems are likely to be encountered along the way if partial automation continues to be the option. Supervising countries should take a second look at automation to help harness the success of the trade,” he said at the virtual event organised by global AI company Webb Fontaine.

Trade Facilitation Specialist at the Kenya Revenue Authority, Fridah Kimani, also sharing her thoughts on the subject, said opportunities awaits Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) due to a platform created by the African Union (AU) to monitor the regional integration.

She called on leaders of the continent to take critical interest in MSMEs and formulate policies that will boost their capacities to take part of the continental trade deal, as that will bring many advantages to all participating countries of the trade agreement.

“African governments need to be prepared in the future for such eventualities or such things that you don’t expect so as to promote their trade flows. One of the things that they can do is to boost the local MSMEs,” she said.

She further stated that mutual trust must exist among the trade partners in order to move forward as Africans, irrespective of the discouragement and aggressions amongst others that will be on the rise, as this will help build good relationship among member countries.

The African trade pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined GDP valued at US$3.4 trillion. AfCFTA would significantly boost African trade, particularly intraregional trade in manufacturing. The volume of total exports is expected to increase by almost 29 percent by 2035 relative to the baseline. Intracontinental exports would also increase by over 81 percent, while exports to non-African countries would rise by 19 percent.

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