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Which complementarity between the AfCFTA and the WTO TFA?

Another policy brief from FERDI concludes that the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) by African countries could complement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) plans for boosting inter-Africa trade. The paper summarizes a previous study that analysed cross-border trade efficiency in 162 countries worldwide. These groups were clustered in 6 groups, including one of 43 African countries participating in the AfCFTA (referred to in the study as “Africa”), whose performances were compared with the other groups. It is important to clarify that each of such groups includes different States, with no overlapping presence  in more groups. They are the following:

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AfCFTA Secretariat annual report on the acceleration of the AfCFTA available on-line

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat has made available the annual Report of the Secretary General on the AU theme of the year 2023 “Accelerating the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area”. The report, covering the period from february 2023 to february 2024, provides an overview of the work of the Secretariat during the year under review. It opens with an introduction on the AfCFTA which describes the evolution of the Agreement and the status of trade under the AfCFTA, including the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI), the initiative that aims to test the operational, institutional, and legal environment of the AfCFTA by accompanying the State Parties to the agreement in the preferential exchange of a series of goods for which the relevant rules of origin have been agreed.

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Africa’s extractive sector: fortune or curse?

Africa’s extractive sector has been the fortune and the curse of many African economies. Those States that have discovered significant reserves of naturals resources (like oil, diamonds, gold, and other minerals), have neglected other sectors becoming dependent on a few commodities, in many cases growing less than other States that do not have such resources. But this narrative is now changing. The global rush to shift from fossil-based systems of energy production and consumption (including oil, natural gas and coal) to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, is putting on the spotlight again the mineral resources, especially those metals that are critical to the energy transition, such as cobalt, copper, tin, graphite, lithium, manganese and titanium. Demand for these metals is set to explode over the coming decades driven by the growth in demand of electric vehicles (EVs), wind turbines, and solar photovoltaic technologies. Only the EV demand, according to recent research, is expected to grow by almost 300 times between 2020 and 2050.

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Second Agenda 2063 10-year implementation plan promises acceleration of trade and free movement of African citizens: objective or dream?

NEPAD, the development agency of the African Union responsible for coordinating and executing priority regional and continental development projects that promote economic integration in Africa, just released the Second Agenda 2063 ten-year implementation plan covering the 2024 – 2033 period. Agenda 2063 is a long-term strategy (covering a period of 50 years) that was adopted in 2013 by the African Union (AU) on the occasion of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Organisation of African Unity (the predecessor of the AU), to guide Africa's development for the next half-century. Its purpose is to identify a series of objectives (called “aspirations”) that aim at transforming the continent into a global powerhouse by 2063. Agenda 2063 is implemented by a series of Ten-Year Plans. The first one, referred to the period 2014-2023, was adopted by the AU Heads of States and Government Assembly in June 2015. The current one was adopted at the recently concluded 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the AU held in Addis Ababa from 17th to 18th February 2024.

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Railway transport, the grand absent in Africa’s transport system geography

To boost free trade in Africa, infrastructure plays a key role. A report from the International Trade Council submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly (the legislative branch of the State Government of Connecticut) noted a few years ago that “International trade cannot happen without roads, bridges, railroads, harbors, airports, and fiber optic cables”, concluding that for this reason, infrastructure should be regarded (by States) not only as financial burdens, but as economic assets where to attract strategic investments. In Africa, a continent that is tipically characterized by long distances between urban centers and production areas, railway transport is key, being this mode of transport the most economically viable over long distances and for the transportation of high cargo volumes (as the load capacity of trains is much higher than lorries or trucks). Yet, this mode of transport is also the most underdeveloped in Africa. This is mostly due to the colonial legacy of the African transport system. Indeed, most of the railways and interstate roads that currently exist in Africa were built during the colonization era by European nations to connect mining areas and agricultural production centers in the interior of the continent to the coast, so as to enable the export of raw materials needed to feed the production processes of European manufacturing companies. The same nations had no economic interest in building railroads and roads connecting African states to each other.

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