Press releases

ITC and AUC sign agreement to empower small businesses to unlock intra-African trade

24 May 2023
ITC News

The International Trade Centre and the African Union Commission signed a memorandum of understanding to promote inclusive trade by integrating small enterprises into Africa's regional economy and enabling them to harvest the potential of increased intra-African trade, and to promote the sharing of trade information and market intelligence through the African Trade Observatory.

(Addis Ababa/Geneva) - The African Union Commission (AUC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to mark the next chapter of an ongoing partnership. Together, the organizations will foster inclusive trade in Africa by incorporating small enterprises into the regional economy, and promote the sharing of trade information and market intelligence across Africa through the African Trade Observatory (ATO).

The renewed agreement responds to changes in the global economy and the ongoing regional integration process in Africa underpinned by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It reaffirms the dedication, shared vision and joint efforts of the African Union and the lead UN agency on small business development.

Key areas highlighted in the framework of cooperation include advancing the African Trade Observatory, an online tool developed by ITC that provides policymakers and businesses real-time trade data; promoting key continental value chains to reinforce industrial development; integrating small businesses into the regional trade process to take advantage of the AfCFTA; and mainstreaming the economic empowerment of women and young entrepreneurs for inclusive trade.

H.E Ambassador Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, Minerals (ETTIM), said: ‘The MOU cements the strong relationship that already exists between the two institutions. It will catalyse implementation of the African Union SME Strategy, operationalization of the ATO, protection of intellectual property, as well as promotion of private sector development in Africa.’

Pamela Coke-Hamilton, ITC Executive Director, said: ‘With this new agreement, our two institutions are stepping up our collaboration to deliver on our shared vision of an interconnected, industrial and inclusive Africa. Together, we’ll continue to equip small businesses with the information and skills they need to integrate into regional and continental value chains – and get the visibility they need through a Made in Africa label – so they can earn more, create quality jobs and transform societies.’

The African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government declared ‘Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation as the theme of the year 2023. This year, the AUC and ITC will train small businesses attending the Intra-African Trade Fair and AU Women in Processing Summit in Cairo, Egypt, in November on how to compete and transact in the African marketplace. The ATO database will be expanded, and enterprises will receive training on how to use the tool for business expansion. ITC will also support the AU on fully operationalizing its Enterprise Africa Network to strengthen the continent’s overall business ecosystem, to make it easier for businesses to trade.



Note for the Editor

About the African Union Commission and its Department of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, Minerals (ETTIM)

The Department of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, Minerals (ETTIM) is one of the portfolios of the African Union Commission that contributes towards realizing Africa's economic integration and making the Continent a competitive industrial and trade partner in the global economy. ETTIM is responsible for promoting economic development, job creation and industrialization across the African continent. The Department's main objective is to develop policies, strategies and programmes that promote intra-African trade and investment, as well as attract foreign direct investment.

For more information, visit

About the ATO

The Assembly/AU/Dec.394 (XVIII) of 18 May 2012 on boosting intra-African trade and fast tracking the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) adopted the architecture of the AfCFTA, and includes the establishment of an African Trade Observatory at the AUC’s Department of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, Minerals (ETTIM). The ATO will serve as the main repository of qualitative and quantitative African trade data and information. It will provide the business community and policymakers with trade information and market intelligence.

For more information, visit:

About ITC

The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

For more information, visit

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About One Trade Africa

The ITC One Trade Africa programme works to enable, empower and enhance African small businesses, women and young entrepreneurs to access transformative business opportunities created by the AfCFTA. The programme embraces a three-pronged delivery model that supports African small businesses to compete, connect and change at the enterprise, business ecosystem and policy levels. ITC provides training, advice and coaching to build capacities, connect them to new and more lucrative markets, and create jobs.


Media contact

Susanna Pak
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
International Trade Centre
E: pak [at] (pak[at]intracen[dot]org)
T: +41 22 730 0651

Meaza Tezera
Department of Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, Minerals 
African Union Commission
E: Meazat [at] | | Addis Ababa | Ethiopia