ONE TRADE AFRICA: Connecting the African business community with the AfCFTA
The African Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA) is now a reality and the International Trade Centre (ITC) to its i
ITC has developed an umbrella programme, the ONE TRADE AFRICA (OTA) to empower MSMEs, women and youth to access the opportunities unfolding under the new single market.
OTA is an integrated package of technical assistance solutions that ITC is offering to the African business community operating in both the formal and informal sectors to enable them to understand the intricacies of the AfCFTA and to build the capacity of enterprises and entrepreneurs to export across Africa and beyond.
The current project is part of the ONE TRADE AFRICA programme. Owing to the funding support from Finland, key priority activities aiming mainly at sensitizing and engaging MSMEs, women and youth under the AfCFTA to develop their export capabilities and competitiveness will be implemented at national, regional and continental levels. ITC will work closely with AfCFTA national committees, ministries in charge of trade, African integration, business support organizations, RECs and the AfCFTA Secretariat. A robust collaboration with UNECA and UNDP will be sought to build synergies and complementarities when delivering technical assistance solutions on the ground. The project will provide an opportunity to prepare specific publications that will be useful for MSMEs, women and youth entrepreneurs engaged in intra-African transactions. Technical sections will lead the implementation of their respective activities.
In a nutshell, the project is an initial response to how ITC will position itself in the context of the implementation of the AfCFTA. The results of the proposed interventions will help mobilize additional resources under the ONE TRADE AFRICA Programme umbrella to cover additional countries and topics that are important for the private sector to increase its participation in the new single market.
Sustainable Development Goals
The African continent is creating the largest free trade area in the world. Once in full operation the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will connect 1.3 billion people across 55 African countries with a combined gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion.
Implementation of the Agreement comes as African countries are grappling with the triple-C crisis of Covid-19, climate change and conflict. This provides African countries with an occasion to reconfigure and diversify their production and trade and prioritize the development of robust and resilient intra-African supply chains.
One Trade Africa
Although the AfCFTA has been operational since 2021, most African businesses are neither informed nor empowered to access market opportunities. Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), especially led by women and youth, need access to information, resources, skills, assets, credit, and economic opportunities.
“One Trade Africa”, ITC’s corporate programme launched in 2021 sets out to empower and enable African MSMEs, as well as young and women entrepreneurs to access meaningful business opportunities created by the AfCFTA.
The programme is designed to support Africa to advance on ONE coherent framework that encompasses not only the AfCFTA, but also the Regional Economic Community (REC) Free Trade Area Agreements, the building blocks of the AfCFTA, and trade arrangements between Africa and the rest of the world. This is to ensure convergence with a unified goal of boosting the competitiveness of African MSMEs and their participation in both intra- and extra-African trade.
Adapting ITC tools for an integrated African market
The One Trade Africa programme is a critical initiative of the ITC Strategic Plan 2022-2025, broadening opportunities for African small businesses and tailoring ITC tools and services to the African continent through supporting businesses to incorporate Green and Digital Goals.
One Trade Africa centres around Africa’s private sector, because it is the key driver for the success of the Free Trade Area. ITC particularly supports small businesses, young entrepreneurs, and women, especially those operating in the informal sector.