As the world deals with the COVID 19 pandemic, the search for recovery strategies is on – with intra- African trade posited to support countries in pushing back headwinds of a pandemic-induced recession. At a high-level event at the Intra-African Trade Fair, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, and UNDP urged African governments and businesses to embrace the value-chain approach as a pathway to seizing opportunities in the ‘One African Market’.
Africa’s leading exporters, captains of key financial institutions, women and youth-owned exporting enterprises gathered at a gala event to witness the official launch of the 2021 AfCFTA Futures Report titled: Which Value Chains for a Made in Africa Revolution.
“Africa must add value to its minerals and other natural resources. We must diversify into other commodities that are viably available on the continent, to leverage them in spurring and benefitting from the current wave of technological revolutions. And we must diversify beyond the current commodity cycle traps into different high technology-content industries. This is clearly possible,” said AfCFTA Secretariat Secretary General, Mr Wamkele Mene, who champions the Futures Report, together with Ahunna Eziakonwa, UN Assistant Secretary-General and UNDP Africa Director.
“I will continue to place industrial policy and regional value chains high on the agenda, together with complementary initiatives for resource mobilisation and human capital through the AfCFTA Academy, while ensuring the AfCFTA delivers on sustainable development.”
The Report generates a first in time analysis of what is shaping up to be concrete opportunities in the AfCFTA. Applying a methodological assessment of the tariff and services offers that have been exchanged amongst AfCFTA state parties, it identifies ten value chains that constitute some of the areas in which investment decisions could be made – given the emerging contours of the One African Market. Value Chains identified include:
- Leather and Leather Products
- Textiles and Apparel
- Vaccine Manufacturing
- Lithium – Ion Batteries
- Mobile Financial Services
- Cultural and Creative Industries
Addressing the opportunities inherent in Regional Value Chains, Assistant Secretary-General Ahunna Eziakonwa emphasised the importance of evidence-based decisions to accompany Africa’s new pathway towards structural transformation.
“We live in historic times – as we witness the shift in development philosophy in Africa. We are moving into a stronger prioritisation of intra-African trade, value addition and industrialisation to create jobs and prosperity across Africa. At UNDP, we are investing in initiatives that promote Africa’s structural economic transformation and are convinced that the African Continental Free Trade Area will take us there, faster,” she said.
“Each of the Value Chains identified presents an opportunity for enhanced participation of women and youth. The Report we launch today has brought us closer to an understanding of where the AfCFTA can accelerate sustainable development by identifying which Value Chains can be taken off the ground to accelerate the role of trade as a means of implementation for both the SDGs and Agenda 2063,” emphasised Ms Eziakonwa.
With this product government officials can target which sectors consist of opportunities for their nation’s entry into the AfCFTA market, creating targeted trade capacity building programmes that can strengthen exporter readiness. Businesses are also in a better place to make sound decisions of where to invest to seize AfCFTA opportunities. And those areas where further improvements need to be made are also pointed out – to create stronger chances for a ‘Made in Africa’ revolution.
“Africa’s vision is to be integrated, prosperous, peaceful, sovereign and internationally efficacious. Towards this end, the AfCFTA is the frontline for continental economic integration under Agenda 2063. Through immense opportunities, decent jobs, and a common rulebook, the AfCFTA improves living standards, fosters political and macroeconomic stability, and supports Africa’s diplomatic imperatives globally,” said Wamkele Mene.
“This Report maps out concrete Regional Value Chains available under the AfCFTA, and I appeal to stakeholders to use it avidly.”