The African Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA Secretariat and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have launched a new partnership envisaged to advance Africa’s development objectives.
This strategic partnership will specifically promote trade as a stimulus for Africa’s socioeconomic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and as a driver of sustainable development particularly for women and youth in Africa, in line with the SDGs and Agenda 2063 common vision for the continent.
The agreement, sealed by the AfCFTA Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene, and by the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa comes with a financial grant of US$3 million.
It will leverage UNDP’s presence in all African countries, working in close collaboration with other UN entities. This will enhance AfCFTA Secretariat advocacy among policymakers, business, civil society, academia, youth and other stakeholders.
Mr. Mene said AfCFTA should be a tool for Africa’s development while acknowledging the significance of the support from the collaboration which will be realized, years in the implementation of the continental trade initiative. “We want to ensure that this partnership was critical to Africa’s progress in terms of economic development,” relying significantly on the expertise of UNDP in the areas of development.
Among others, he observed there is a potential to lift 100 million Africans out of moderate and extreme poverty by 2035, with the pursuit of AfCFTA but will require the contributions of strategic partners like UNDP. “The AfCFTA is beyond a trade liberalizing instrument. It is an enabler of inclusive growth and sustainable development,” Mr. Mene further noted.
“We must rebalance Africa’s role in global trade. As African countries implement COVID-19 recovery plans, this collaboration with UNDP will drive momentum, on the ground in AfCFTA state parties, to ensure that women and youth are the leading beneficiaries of the AfCFTA.”
Ms. Eziakonwa, said: “UNDP is pleased to support the AfCFTA as a development enabler and accelerator that can move the continent beyond COVID-19 recovery, towards Africa We Want and the Sustainable Development Goals. If we succeed, we will have contributed to creating stronger and more resilient inclusive and green economies in Africa characterized by rising incomes, jobs, more balanced trade, and better returns from Africa’s natural resources.”
Trade is recognized as a mean of implementation for the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063. The new collaboration aims to address inequalities, promote value addition and create jobs. As Africa trades more with itself, it will be essential to target critical hurdles faced in exporting within Africa such as SME export competitiveness; rules of origin; technical and product safety standards.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – the world’s largest free-trade area – started trading on 1 January 2021, creating a market of 1.2 billion people and the eighth economic bloc in the world with a US$3-trillion combined GDP, that is expected to more than double by 2050.
The partnership signing was part of a two-day official visit to New York by the AfCFTA Secretariat Secretary-General. Since its launch, the AfCFTA has been ratified by 36 countries, and already possesses 90 per cent of tariff offers and 34 services offers, which enables sound business and investment decisions in intra-African trade, strengthening accelerated action for trade as a means of implementation for the ‘Africa We Want,’ and for the SDGs.