EXPERTS have said digitisation of trade across Africa can significantly boost free trade in the continent and help to realise the objectives of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The experts said this at the ongoing African Economic Conference jointly organised by African Development Bank (AfDB), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) holding virtually in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
They said this in a session tagged “Realising the AfCFTA Promised Gains: Fostering Implementation through Digitisation and Comparative Experiences from the Global South”.
Mr Tunde Fafunwa, ECA Lead Advisor said: “In order to properly implement the AfCFTA, we are going to need digitisation in two aspects – digital and virtual services themselves and everything that delivers across finance, remote health, agriculture and education.
“The second is the enabling exercise that digitisation gives particularly for trade and in the different sectors. Making sure that these gains are actually realised takes a multisector, multifactor effort.”
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that AfCFTA seeks to create an integrated African market of 1.27 billion consumers, which is expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030.
This with an aggregated gross domestic product of up to 34 trillion dollars.
Also, on-going research led by experts at ECA and the United Nations System Staff College (UNSSC) aims to document the opportunities, challenges and the role of digitisation in the implementation of the AfCTA.
The research looks at some case studies in some regional economic communities where digitisation is already happening, drawing some comparative lessons for the implementation of AfCFTA.
Ms. Bineswaree Bolaky, Economic Affairs Officer at UNECA sub-regional office for Southern Africa said: “We do not want the report to be an academic study, we want the report to contain policy recommendations that will be practical, and resource oriented for our policymakers especially capacity building.
“In order to implement AfCFTA, we will need to keep on building capacities on the continent and in this report; we want to put emphasis on how we can leverage digitisation to build capacities to implement AfCFTA.”
Panelists highlighted the need for policies to create an enabling environment for productive digital trade.
Dr Trudi Hartzenberg, Executive Director at Trade Law Centre said digital solutions could be the norm right from the start.
Hartzenberg added that the COVID-19 pandemic had boosted digitisation and “Africa now has a chance to leapfrog as the AfCFTA is a new agreement”.
Mrs Temilade Abimbola, Lead Corporate Officer in the Office of the AfDB President, said there was a need to pay attention to creating an enabling environment to facilitate digitisation adding that it offered the best opportunity for Africa to harmonise standards to facilitate trade.
– Dec. 9, 2020 @ 17:06 GMT |