The African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation Support Project, a joint project established and funded by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and the Trade Development Fund (TDFD), has announced a number of project milestone developments and the execution of key activities to support the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
In January and February, 2022 consultations were held between ECA, EIF, ITFC, TDFD, and the beneficiary countries to prepare the Joint Project’s Terms of Reference and the implementation schedule of key activities.
In the first phase of the project, which runs until June 2023, the approved activities call for the implementation of thirty in-country workshops and the development of insights studies, which are organized into three major categories to support the operationalization of the AfCFTA:
- • Capacity building and sensitization on the AfCFTA
- • Development of information tools on the AfCFTA
- • Development of policy instruments to support AfCFTA implementation
For the people of Africa, it is important to achieve the AfCFTA’s promise of greater and deeper economic integration to attract investment, expand trade, generate better jobs, eliminate poverty, and increase shared prosperity.
The successful implementation of the free trade agreement is essential for the fulfillment of this commitment and the Joint Project beneficiary countries of Burkina Faso, Guinea, Niger, Senegal, and Togo must have the capacity, information tools, and policy instruments to effectively implement the AfCFTA.
This is the rationale behind the development of the Joint project between EIF, IsDB, ITFC, TDFD, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to support the operationalization of the AfCFTA.
The project support activities were proposed by the beneficiary countries in accordance with the action plans included in their national AfCFTA strategies.
Since March 2022, the activities executed in the beneficiary countries include the following:
- • Burkina Faso – Two national consultation workshops (one workshop for private sector actors on the implementation of the AfCFTA and one for public administration actors on the implementation of the AfCFTA national strategy) and a training workshop for industrialists and foreign trade actors on the Rules of Origin
- • Guinea – A training workshop on rules of origin and a workshop to raise awareness on the trade facilitation structures on the AfCFTA
- • Niger – Five workshops covering the training of members of the National Trade Facilitation Committee, Rules of Origin, Schedules of Tariff Concessions, and Tariff Concession Lists for customs officers and the awareness on the challenges of the AfCFTA implementation in Niger
- • Senegal – An awareness campaign and a training workshop for support and supervisory structures on the AfCFTA
- • Togo – A national workshop for the revision of the lists of specific commitments in the five priority sectors of AfCFTA services
- During the next stage of phase one of the project, the following themes and issues will be covered in project workshops, events, and studies to the building capacity and develop information tools and policy instruments:
- • The development of the maritime transport sector promotion strategy
- • Market studies for the ‘Exportable Supply to African Markets’ (onions, livestock, potatoes, sesame, and petroleum product derivatives); ‘The Compliance of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)’
- • Development of a project bank for the mobilization of internal and external resources
- • Development of the exporter’s manual & an e-commerce platforms
- • Formulation of service trade promotion strategies
Over 15 approved workshops and other project events are planned in the five beneficiary countries.
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN’s five regional commissions, ECA’s mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development.
Made up of 54 member States,and playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape, ECA is well positioned to make unique contributions to address the Continent’s development challenges.
Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF)
The EIF partnership of 51 countries, 24 donors, and eight partner agencies works closely with governments, development organizations, and civil society to assist least-developed countries (LDCs) use trade as an engine for development and poverty reduction. Together, we leverage our collective know-how, reach, and reputation to tackle the trade constraints of the world’s poorest countries. The EIF programme is supported by:
• a Geneva-based Steering Committee that advises EIF stakeholders and serves as a forum for transparency and information exchange, and comprised of all LDC partners, all EIF Donors, and EIF Agencies.
• a Board that serves as the key decision-making body, with strategic, operational, and financial oversight, and comprised of three capital-based LDC representatives, three EIF Donor representatives, and members from EIF Agencies; and
• a Multi-Donor Trust Fund managed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) as the EIF Trust Fund Manager.
The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB)
Rated AAA by the major rating agencies, the Islamic Development Bank is a multilateral development bank that has been working for over 45 years to improve the lives of the communities it serves by delivering impact at scale. The Bank brings together 57-Member Countries across four continents, touching the lives of 1 in 5 of the world’s population.
Its mission is to equip people to drive their own economic and social progress at scale, putting the infrastructure in place and enabling them to fulfill their potential. Headquartered in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, IsDB has regional hubs and centers of excellence in 11 of its Member Countries.
Over the years, the Bank has evolved from a single entity into a group comprising five entities: the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), the Islamic Development Bank Institute (IsDBI) tasked with research and training, the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC). For more information: http://bit.ly/3UY0kzH
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC)
The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) is a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. It was established with the primary objective of advancing trade among OIC member countries, which would ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of improving the socioeconomic conditions of people across the world.
Commencing operations in January 2008, ITFC has provided US$66 billion of financing to OIC member countries, making it the leading provider of trade solutions for these member countries’ needs.
With a mission to become a catalyst for trade development for OIC member countries and beyond, the Corporation helps entities in member countries gain better access to trade finance and provides them with the necessary trade-related capacity-building tools, which would enable them to successfully compete in the global market.
The Trade Development Fund
Launched with a target capital of US $50 million, the Trade Development Fund (TDFD), a Waqf-based fund where ITFC acts as the Fund’s Trustee and Principal Participant, was established in 2018 to provide sustainable financial resources to support the design and implementation of trade development activities and projects to enhance trade of Member Countries.
TDFD commenced operations in January 2020.