The AfCFTA Secretariat and the UN Development Programme have signed a strategic partnership to promote trade as a stimulus for Africa’s socioeconomic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and as a driver of sustainable development particularly for women and youths in Africa.
The agreement was sealed by the AfCFTA Secretary General, Mr Wamkele Mene, and the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, the UNDP said in a statement.
Mene was quoted as saying, “The AfCFTA is beyond a trade liberalising instrument. It is an enabler of inclusive growth and sustainable development.
“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.”
According to the statement, the partnership will 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 $3m.
It said this would enhance AfCFTA Secretariat advocacy among policymakers, business, civil society, academia, youth and other stakeholders.
“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,” said Eziakonwa.
“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,” she added.
According to the statement, trade is recognised as a means of implementation for the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 1963.
“The new collaboration aims to address inequalities, promote value addition and create jobs. As Africa trades more with itself, it will be essential to target critical hurdles faced in exporting within Africa such as SME export competitiveness; rules of origin; technical and product safety standards,” it said.