Welcome to the latest edition of our quarterly newsletter, where we share updates from the Supporting Investment and Trade in Africa (SITA) programme under ODI’s International Economic Development Group (IEDG). We have been hard at work over the past few months and are excited to share our latest news and insights with you.
Roundtables and events
The last quarter has been an exciting time for the SITA Programme. We have had the pleasure of hosting and participating in several impactful events, conferences, and roundtables that are helping shape the future of trade and investment in Africa.
SITA’s engagements in Africa
One of the highlights of our recent engagements was the inaugural AfCFTA Business Forum, held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 16 to 19 April under the theme, Accelerating AfCFTA implementation. It brought together more than 1,000 policymakers, business leaders, and key stakeholders to discuss and share insights on how to leverage trade and investment opportunities brought about by the AfCFTA.
Dominic McVey MBE, a member of the ODI Board and Chair of the ODI Global Advisory Board, was one of the official speakers at a plenary panel discussion on Value Addition – Accelerating Africa’s Industrial through the AfCFTA.
Speaking after the Forum, Mr McVey said: “I was reminded of the immense potential that the AfCFTA holds for businesses and investors outside the continent. With a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of people and capital, and a common trade policy framework, the AfCFTA presents numerous opportunities for businesses to expand into new markets, create jobs, and contribute to regional development. Looking ahead, it is important that we build on the tremendous momentum of the forum to ensure that the AfCFTA achieves its full potential.”
While the conference covered various pertinent trade issues, it also put a spotlight on priority sectors and value chains, including agro-processing, automotive, pharmaceuticals, transport and logistics, and digital trade.
Collaborations and dialogues
On the margins of the Forum, our Director, Prof. Dirk Willem te Velde, met with various stakeholders to share research findings and foster collaborations. Notably, he visited The Nelson Mandela School where he met with key figures to build on ODI’s collaboration with the School.
Prof te Velde met with the Director of the Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, Prof Faizel Ismail (who is also AfCFTA Trade and Industrial Development Advisory Council (ATIDAC) Chair), and AfCFTA Advisory Council member, Tefere Tesfachew, to discuss SITA analysis on AfCFTA national implementation committees.
In partnership with The Mandela School and the AfCFTA Secretariat, we also facilitated a World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Africa breakfast workshop. Here Prof te Velde presented a framework for action for companies and highlighted the importance of businesses aligning their strategies with the ambitions of AfCFTA.
He also suggested that businesses could implement the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) pilot, engage with regional and AfCFTA private sector strategies, and work with national implementation committees. The presentation was attended by the AfCFTA Secretary-General, H.E. Wamkele Mene, among others.
A subsequent blog on the WEF website, How implementation committees are moving the African free trade area from talks to action, co-authored by Prof te Velde and the Coordinator of AfCFTA NICs, Million Habte, highlighted how NICs are gaining momentum throughout Africa and how, together with the private sector, have crucial roles in implementing the AfCFTA.
The role of NICs in AfCFTA implementation
SITA's commitment to the AfCFTA's implementation was further demonstrated at the AfCFTA Review Mechanism Consultative Meeting held at the East African Community HQ in Arusha in March.
The aim of the gathering was to share knowledge on review mechanisms and gather inputs for designing the AfCFTA Trade Policy Review Mechanism. Participants from EAC, COMESA, SADC, and IGAD countries attended.
Prof te Velde and AfCFTA NICs Coordinator, Million Habte, underscored the critical role of NICs for the AfCFTA's successful implementation. Feedback from the meeting informed our report, AfCFTA National Implementation Committees: Scoping options and support mechanisms, which identifies appropriate forms and functions for NICs, outlines a template for effective operation, and suggests options for the AfCFTA Secretariat to support implementation through NICs.
Kenya's trade, investment, and international relationships
We continued our dialogues on trade and investment with an exclusive roundtable featuring former Kenyan Cabinet Secretary, Ambassador Amina Mohamed, who delivered an insightful keynote address highlighting Kenya's trade and investment opportunities and how the country is working towards increasing intra-Africa trade cooperation through regional trade blocs such as EAC, COMESA and AfCFTA.
The roundtable was opened by ODI’s Chief Executive, Sara Pantuliano, and featured trade and investment experts, representatives from the business community, and stakeholders interested in the current state and prospects of Kenya's and Africa’s economic development. The roundtable explored the challenges and opportunities facing Kenya's international relationships and provided valuable insights that will inform SITA’s future work, specifically in guiding ODI’s efforts to support the AfCFTA Secretariat.
Advancing gender equality in trade and economic development
In June, Dr Laetitia Pettinotti chaired a lively and engaging roundtable with the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) on ‘Women's Economic Empowerment and the AfCFTA: Two Years On’. Esteemed panellists - Laura Naliaka (Trade Policy Expert, ATPC), Pat Horn (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO)), Dr. Naazia Ibrahim (Lecturer, University for Development Studies, Ghana) and Sopani Muzumara (Coordinator, Proudly Zambian Campaign) - shared their insights on various aspects of women's economic empowerment in Africa.
The roundtable was well attended with representatives from different international organisations and academia, and provided an excellent opportunity to explore new collaborations in advancing gender equality in trade and economic development across Africa.
In May, our team also participated in The Africa Debate - London’s leading investment summit focused on Africa organised by Invest Africa. The event brought together policymakers, business communities and investors from across the continent for a timely series of conversations on the future of African trade and investment.
As we move forward, we remain committed to continuing our efforts to support the AfCFTA and its implementation, and fostering trade and investment across Africa. Stay up to date with the latest news and activities by following us on Twitter below.
Our researchers and partners have produced a wide range of publications and thought leadership pieces including:
- Sectoral and fiscal impact of the AfCFTA in Rwanda | Maximiliano Mendez-Parra, and Prachi Agarwal
- Seizing the opportunity: Nigeria's path to market access in services under the AfCFTA | Prachi Agarwal and David Primack
- The automotive sector in Nigeria: Opportunities under the AfCFTA | Prachi Agarwal, Linda Calabrese, Derrick Abudu, and Ogoegbunam Chukwurah
- From negotiations to implementation: building effective AfCFTA National Implementation Committees | Prudence Sebahizi, Million Habte, Halima Noor, Yafika Chitanda, José Luis Tavares Semedo, Dirk Willem te Velde, Derrick Abudu, Prachi Agarwal, and Maximiliano Mendez-Parra
- The AfCFTA Protocol on Investment: issues and potential impacts | Yohannes Ayele, Martha Belete, and Dirk Willem te Velde
- AfCFTA National Implementation Committees: scoping options and support mechanisms | Prudence Sebahizi, Million Habte, Halima Noor, Yafika Chitanda, José Luis Tavares Semedo, Dirk Willem te Velde, Derrick Abudu, Prachi Agarwal, and Maximiliano Mendez-Parra
- AfCFTA and rules of origin for the textile and apparel industry in Africa | Prachi Agarwal, Faizel Ismail, and Vuyiswa Mkhabela
- Intellectual property and women’s economic empowerment in Africa | Laetitia Pettinotti, Nadia Hasham, and Laura Naliaka
- Reviving Nigeria’s Automotive Industry: opportunities and challenges under the AfCFTA | by Prachi Agarwal
- How African integration can help achieve food security | by Maximiliano Mendez-Parra and Yohannes Ayele
We have several informational videos on our YouTube page that provide valuable insights into the key priorities for the SITA program, the formation of AfCFTA National Implementation Committees, and the crucial role they play in advancing trade and investment in Africa.
The National AfCFTA Coordination Office in Ghana have also shared the latest episode of their animation series on AfCFTA Implementation in Ghana. Watch it here.
In February we hosted a closed roundtable workshop that discussed future developments in Aid for Trade. The workshop brought together several key speakers including David Beer, CEO of TradeMark Africa (TMA). We sat down with David to discuss how Aid for Trade can facilitate economic growth and integration of communities across Africa, and how TMA's strategy is supporting this. You can catch all the highlights from the workshop on our Twitter page: Video 1 | Video 2 | Video 3 | Video 4