Business associations in Africa: what are their potentials?

13 September 2012
ITC News
ITC studies assess the capacity and interest of African business associations to engage in trade-policy issues.

ITC has recently completed studies that identify business association in selected African regions and assess their capacity and areas of interest on trade policy issues and business advocacy. The three separate studies focus on the regions of the East African Community, the Southern African Development Community and the Indian Ocean Commission. The findings provide an updated assessment of the state of business advocacy and public-private dialogue in these African sub-regions.

The studies identify the national and regional private sector organizations that are currently engaged in dialogue with their respective national government and regional governing bodies on trade-policy issues. They also look at potential of the organizations to become further engaged with the policymaking process.

The studies also look at the needs, weaknesses and strengths, and priorities of the organizations. For each of the organizations, the studies set out what business advocacy activities have been carried out, what are the means available to advocate, specific trade-policy interest areas, and the geographic focus of their advocacy, whether this is aimed at the national, regional or international level.

Next steps

Through this mapping exercise, ITC has been able to draw conclusions on both the environment for public-private dialogue on trade-policy issues within the countries and sub-regions as well as assess the capacity and interest of each organisation to engage in advocacy. The findings of the studies will help ITC in defining areas where technical assistance needs to be provided to ensure a better informed trade-policy formulation process based on strong input from the private sector.

The mapping exercise will be updated on a regular basis, and similar studies be carried out in other African sub-regions.

Insights from the business perspective

ITC supports public-private dialogue for national and regional trade policymaking to ensure that trade policies are better attuned to the commercial environment. This in turn allow for policies to be more broadly endorsed and more sustainable. As such, ITC brings public and private stakeholders together in a structured process to find solutions for issues affecting business performance and exports.

Within Africa, in the context of movements towards greater regional integration, ITC encourages businesses to identify core issues that inhibit regional trade and lends support for them to run well-informed and structured advocacy campaigns at the regional and national level.

Business Association Profiles, East Africa Region — Advocacy for Trade Policy

Business Association Profiles, Indian Ocean Region — Advocacy for Trade Policy

Business Association Profiles, Southern Africa Region — Advocacy for Trade Policy