The UK government has announced a multi-million commitment to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
It has pledged £35 million that will be used to facilitate trade as well as trade policy support to the AfCFTA Secretariat and Member States through TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and other regional partners.
International trade secretary Ann-Marie Trevelyan unveiled the investment expected to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, create jobs and provide commercial opportunities across Africa and the UK.
AfCFTA is the world’s largest free trade area, connecting 1.3 billion people across 54 countries and has a combined gross domestic product valued at US$3.4 trillion.
The announcement was timed for a visit to London by AfCFTA Secretariat Secretary General Wamkele Mene to discuss the UK’s work as a strategic partner of the trading bloc.
The aim of the African free trade area is to encourage intra-Africa trade, bringing 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty and to raise the incomes of 68 million others who live on less than $5.50 per day.
For UK businesses, the trade area helps remove market access barriers by creating a single continental market, making it easier and more cost-effective for UK businesses to export goods and services across the 54 AfCFTA member states.
Trevelyan said the UK is “keen to see continued momentum on outstanding negotiations, and on practical implementation of the agreement on the ground. This new aid programme shows that trade is a force for good, and will lead to increased trade, investment, and prosperity for both Africa and the UK”.
IOE&IT in Africa
In January the Institute of Export & International Trade (IOE&IT) opened its first African office in Kenya, with director general Marco Forgione saying the move was "a sign of how important we believe our work in Africa is and how much more important we believe it can be".
In August last year the Institute launched a qualification in Nigeria aimed at encouraging more businesses in the country to export and trade internationally.
The qualification was a Level 4 Diploma in International Trade in partnership with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), a WTO and UN-backed trade agency.
The UK government’s £35 million investment builds on existing work from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Department for International Trade’s development unit to strengthen partnerships and resilience in Africa.
Under the UK’s G7 presidency last year, the British Investment International group pledged to work with other G7 Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to invest at least $80 billion in the African private sector by 2027.
Africa minister Vicky Ford MP said the UK’s investment would help “lift millions of people out of extreme poverty in Africa”.
Commenting on the investment promise, Wamkele Mene said AfCFTA's ambition "is to see commercially meaningful trading in ‘Made in the AfCFTA’ products taking place, across the length and breadth of our continent, to create jobs and economic opportunities for Africans, especially women and the youth".