Danish Support to African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

The Project at A Glance

In a bid to increase intra-regional trade and promote regional integration across the African continent, the African Union launched negotiations for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The Agreement was adopted and opened for signature in March 2018 and entered into force a year later in May 2019. At present, 54 countries have signed the Agreement while 44 have also deposited their instruments of ratification. The AfCFTA will create the largest free trade area in the world, with respect to the number of participating countries.
Against this backdrop, International Economics Consulting Ltd. (IEC) assisted The Royal Danish Embassy in Addis Ababa in the formulation of support programmes for the implementation of the AfCFTA for the period 2019-2022. This included the provision of an independent assessment and quality assurance of the design and documentation of the envisaged Danish support in accordance with existing Danish Aid Management Guidelines from technical, management, monitoring and risk management points of view. The ultimate goal of the Danish support is to contribute to the negotiation, implementation and operationalisation of the AfCFTA so that the benefits of the Agreement will reach the entire Continent’s population.

What We Found

One of the key aspects of the project involved the appraisal of the support to the African Union Commission and UNECA for implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area. The overall purpose of the appraisal was to provide an independent assessment and quality assurance of the design and documentation of the envisaged Danish support of 25 million DKK over three years to the implementation of the Agreement in accordance with existing Danish Aid Management Guidelines.
This included an assessment of how well the support is aligned with Danish priorities, assessing risks, ensure that it is aligned with DAC principles. The five OECD/DAC quality criteria for development cooperation are:

  1. Relevance
  2. Effectiveness
  3. Efficiency
  4. Impact
  5. Sustainability

One of the four key priorities in the new Danish strategy for development cooperation and humanitarian action (The World 2030) is the promotion of inclusive, sustainable growth and development by enhancing free trade and integration. It was found that the proposed support was aligned with key Danish priorities and would contribute to sustainable results around trade and regional integration.

Our Strategy and Impact

While the AfCFTA has received considerable support from numerous international donors, there is still a significant gap when it comes to resources and technical manpower required to fully meet the aims of the African Union. Thus, IEC highlighted some additional areas where the Danish embassy could support the implementation of the Agreement. This can for instance include:

  • Support in the development or assessment of digital trade/e-commerce strategies
  • Support for the private sector and facilitating the inclusion of their views and requests in negotiations
  • Facilitating the communication of information pertaining to new developments about the Agreement

Our Core Solutions

With the rapid proliferation of trade agreements worldwide, there are new market and investment opportunities for countries to explore. At International Economics Consulting, based on our extensive experience in international trade, we assist our clients by providing a detailed analysis of the key impacts of new trade agreements on their operations and competitiveness through an assessment of tariff, and non-tariff barriers, provisions on rules of origin, customs efficiency, the effectiveness of transport networks, and sustainability provisions, among others.
We can help assess the opportunities in different markets, determine the feasibility and viability of projects, and benchmark the wider ecosystem to support business growth. We also support clients in navigating the policy landscape regarding international trade by establishing robust monitoring and evaluation framework through sophisticated real-time dashboards and reporting systems to ensure the best outcomes.

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