Press releases

Mapping African businesses, demystifying the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

25 November 2022
ITC News

(Niamey/Geneva) AUC Africa Industrialization Week 2022: The AfCFTA Secretariat and ITC, on the sidelines of Africa Industrialization Week from 20-25 November 2022, launch the AfCFTA glossary to unpack the legal Agreement for small businesses, and announce the highly anticipated private sector mapping to profile firms and the business ecosystem that supports them

AfCFTA glossary: The glossary, produced with input from the private sector, explains 100 AfCFTA-related technical terms to help small firms to better understand what the Agreement means for them. The glossary is available in English and will soon be made available in French, Arabic and Portuguese. A mobile application is also under development. This publication was developed by the AfCFTA Secretariat and ITC through the Government of Finland supported One Trade Africa Programme..

According to H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, AfCFTA Secretariat, ‘The AfCFTA glossary fills a void where knowledge material around the AfCFTA Agreement has failed to be small business-friendly thus far. Today, I reaffirm our commitment as the Secretariat, to ensuring inclusivity in trade regarding African small businesses, particularly women and young entrepreneurs, whereby they will be able to be competitive, resilient and able to achieve their full potential.’

African private sector mapping: The mapping is a result of thousands of ITC-led surveys and interviews with small businesses and business support organizations across the continent. It covers the characteristics, competitiveness and constraints of African firms, and the performance and interconnectedness of regional business support organizations. The intel gathered will support the sensitization, advocacy and training efforts to be done as part of the AfCFTA private sector engagement plan. Key findings include:

- 75% of businesses in Francophone Africa have yet to hear about the AfCFTA

- 32% of African firms report having a business website, with women-led firms less likely to have one

- 42% of African exporting firms invest heavily in research and development, compared to 24% of non-exporting firms, showing that exporting firms are more likely to innovate

‘To unlock intra-African trade, we need data on small firms’ characteristics and the performance of business support organizations. That’s why we’re mapping Africa’s private sector. Our partnership with the AfCFTA Secretariat is all about ensuring the Agreement delivers for businesses, especially those led by women and youth.’ Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre

This joint venture between the AfCFTA Secretariat and ITC illustrates the organizations’ collective efforts to understand and address the challenges faced by small businesses on the Continent.

The seminar was attended by high-level officials, including Hon. Alkache Alhada, Minister of trade of Niger; Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Executive Director of the African Union Development Agency, NEPAD; and Dr. Amani Asfour, President of the African Business Council.

About the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want and entered into force on 30 May 2019. It is a high-ambition trade agreement, which aims to bring together all 55 Member States of the African Union, covering a market of more than 1.3 billion people, with a comprehensive scope that includes critical areas of Africa’s economy, such as digital trade and investment protection, amongst other areas. By eliminating barriers to trade in Africa, the objective of the AfCFTA is to significantly boost intra-African trade, particularly trade in value-added production and trade across all services sectors of Africa’s economy, at a potential of 52.3%.

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About the International Trade Centre: The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries to become more competitive in global markets – thus contributing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For more information, visit Follow ITC on Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Instagram | Flickr

Media contacts

Susanna Pak
Senior Strategic Communications Officer
International Trade Centre (ITC)
E: pak [at] or press [at]
T: +41 (022) 730 0651

Grace Khoza
Principal Communications Advisor
African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat
E: Grace.Khoza [at] (Grace[dot]Khoza[at]au-afcfta[dot]org)

Elydora Matubanzila
Communications Officer
African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat
E:Elydora.Matubanzila [at] (Elydora[dot]Matubanzila[at]au-afcfta[dot]org) or afcftacommunications [at] (afcftacommunications[at]au-afcfta[dot]org)