The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have signed a strategic partnership to promote trade as a stimulus for Africa’s socio-economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis.

This partnership, according to the development partners, will be a driver for sustainable development, particularly for women and youths, in Africa and it will be in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2063 common vision for the continent.

The collaboration aims to address inequalities, promote value addition and create jobs.

It is understood that as Africa trades more with itself, it will be essential to target critical hurdles faced in exporting within the continent such as SME export competitiveness, rules of origin, and technical and product safety standards.

‘The AfCFTA is beyond a trade liberalizing instrument. It is an enabler of inclusive growth and sustainable development’, AfCFTA Secretary General, Wamkele Mene, said.

‘We must rebalance Africa’s role in global trade.  As African countries implement Covid-19 recovery plans, this collaboration with UNDP will drive momentum, on the ground in AfCFTA state parties, to ensure that women and youths are the leading beneficiaries of the AfCFTA’.

The partnership is designed to leverage UNDP’s presence in all African countries, working in close collaboration with other UN entities, and includes direct support to the AfCFTA secretariat through a financial grant of three million dollars.

‘This will enhance AfCFTA Secretariat advocacy among policymakers, business, civil society, academia, youths and other stakeholders’, a statement from UNDP read.

‘UNDP is pleased to support the AfCFTA as a development enabler and accelerator that can move the continent beyond Covid-19 recovery, towards the Africa we want and the sustainable development goals’, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa, said.

‘If we succeed, we will have contributed to creating stronger and more resilient inclusive and green economies in Africa characterised by rising incomes, jobs, more balanced trade, and better returns from Africa’s natural resources’.

AfCFTA, which commenced trading on 01 January, 2021, is the world’s largest free-trade area, creating a market of 1.2 billion people and the eighth economic bloc in the world.

Source: UNDP

Photo source: UNDP

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