Africa Free Trade Agreement: What’s Next?

The first ever Africa Trade Forum on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) concluded in November 2018 with resounding success, and so did our #AfricaFreeTradeAgreement digital campaign. We asked our online community their thoughts on the AfCFTA, including understanding its potential developmental outcomes. The poll ran for a six-week period from before the Forum until November 30, 2018–and was even extended upon request of Nigerian government officials.

In total, more than 2,000 respondents from 42 countries across Africa shared their thoughts and insights on the AfCFTA. Some comments were accessed in real time and shared with delegates directly at the Forum, sparking discussion and calls to action.

An overwhelming 77% expressed strong confidence that the AfCFTA is an important step toward economic growth and prosperity for Africa. When asked about the most significant outcome of the AfCFTA, most respondents cited employment creation, economic development and integration, and increased access to market. This reflects the clear promise the AfCFTA offers for advancing Africa’s socio-economic development and the attainment of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and highlights the importance of continuously engaging stakeholders.

Poll respondents revealed optimism for how the agreement would impact their own lives, help address corruption, improve analogue state systems, enhance the business environment, increase economic and employment opportunity, boost Africa’s services sector, address intra-border barriers, and alleviate poverty, among many other issues as captured below.

To build upon the success of the Forum and to officially close the online poll, The Rockefeller Foundation held a Twitter chat on Nov. 30th, again with the goal of listening to African citizens and providing a channel to make their voices heard by leaders in business, government, civil society, and academia.

More than 700 participants took part from Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa, Rwanda, and Ghana, sharing their thoughts on what actions should be taken by leaders in their respective countries. Most of the contributions spoke to issues of employment and food security, and rounding out the discussion was a focus on the difference the AfCFTA could make for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as education, last mile electrification, access to improved health services, transportation, market availability and accessibility, and commodity price control.

Where does the AfCFTA go from here? Read more from Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director of the Africa Regional Office of The Rockefeller Foundation.

AfCFTA and Food Security in Africa

Africa’s market is rapidly expanding, comprising 5 of the 10 fastest growing economies in 2017 and with a total GDP predicted to reach $4tr by 2030. By 2030, Africa is expected to amount to a market of 1 billion middle-class consumers. Africa spent approximately $35 billion on food imports in 2016 and if left unchecked, the continent’s food import bill is expected to surge to $110 billion by 2025. Meanwhile, the continent is home to 50 per cent of the world’s cultivatable land, and has vast unexploited water resources and various agro-ecological zones. The agribusiness sector is projected to reach $1 trillion in 2025, supported by a rapidly growing middle-income class and continental programmes in support of agro-industrialization. The establishment of the AfCFTA offers a critical juncture for channeling greater efforts to supporting agro-business, creating new regional markets for farmers, climbing agro-value chains and replacing the need for imports. The private sector can play an important role in identifying the critical agricultural reforms needed to achieve agro-transformation and take advantage of these agri-business opportunities.

AfCFTA and Access to Productive Power in Africa

About 600 million Africans lack access to electricity. ECA projections indicate that if current trends continue, Africa will not achieve universal access to electricity by 2030, and it could, in fact, take up to 2080 to attain this goal. Energy transformation, access, and consumption can be supported through regional power systems. Many countries, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, are already investing in hydropower generation for cross-border trade. The concept of clean energy corridors in Africa aims to link up African power pools to enhance cross-border trade and optimize deployment of the continent’s renewable energy resources. The AfCFTA and its sister initiative, the Boosting Intra-African Trade Action Plan, offer important platforms to build momentum on establishing an integrated set of platforms and partnerships to drive regional power systems, accelerate energy access for productive use, and bring down the costs of Africa’s structural transformation.

AfCFTA Negotiations Status Update: September 2018

  • 7 ratifications
  • 49 signings
  • 3 further commitments (Kigali Declaration)
  • 3 countries without commitment






What’s next in the AfCFTA negotiations?

AfCFTA information provided by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)