Intra-African trade can play a pivotal role in fostering more economically beneficial, sustainable and inclusive growth. Relative to trade with partners beyond the continent, intra-African trade is characterized by a higher level of processing, more technologically advanced goods, and a higher level of product diversification. In fact, 61% of Intra-African exports are in semi-processed and processed goods, relative to only 28% of exports to other partners beyond the continent. Intra-continental trade also provides greater support to women-owned enterprises. Nevertheless, identifying and harnessing new regional opportunities requires the right tools to guide entrepreneurs and policymakers in their decisions.
In commemoration of African Integration Day, the African Union (AU), the European Union, and the International Trade Centre engaged in a series of sessions between 7 and 8 July that highlighted how the African Trade Observatory Dashboard can support the effective implementation of the AfCFTA and strengthen continental integration. The sessions brought together an audience from across AU members, including policymakers and entrepreneurs, to shed light on how the digital dashboard can empower firms to take advantage of the continent’s emerging opportunities. As AfCFTA implementation moves forward, companies will be better equipped to take data-driven business decisions, while policymakers keep abreast of trade impacts on their economies.
The new online version (https://ato.africa/en) offers updated statistics, is available in Arabic and Portuguese in addition to English and French, and unveils a new analytical module to meet the needs of policymakers. The newly released Monitor module grants authorised policymakers access to detailed and timely information on trade performance, trade opportunities, level of processing of traded products and the utilization of trade agreements.
In addition to revolutionizing the scope of available trade and information, the African Trade Observatory project is also improving the speed of access with real time data on tax and tariff information through a customized data transfer system. This new system has been successfully installed in Comoros, Madagascar, Uganda and Zambia.
“With $22 billion of untapped export potential on the continent, African entrepreneurs will now be better equipped to seize new opportunities, create better jobs, and spark inclusive growth. Further progress in tariff liberalization could drive additional trade growth. If all AU members fully liberalized tariffs across all products in the coming five years, another $19.8 billion of intra-regional export growth could be possible.”
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre
“The new Monitor module will provide African policymakers with strategic insights on the sophistication of their exports, to what extent their exporters are benefitting from preferential market access as well as forecasts of trade potential in key sectors. The African Union Commission will continue to provide support towards the successful utilization of the African Trade Observatory in support of the successful implementation of the AfCFTA.”
Acting Director, Mr. Jean-Denis Gabikini on behalf of H.E. Albert Muchanga, Commissioner of Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining, African Union
“Economic Integration is one of the strategic and traditional areas of mutual interest for EU-AU cooperation and a key Pillar of the new EU-Africa Partnership. The EU as the unique peer and neighbouring Union to the AU, is committed to continue supporting the African efforts towards continental integration. Our engagement materialises not only through sharing some of our integration experiences but also by providing support to key AU flagship initiatives like the AfCFTA and the ATO. As announced, the EU has just provided extra funding of € 5 million EU funding for ATO’s Second phase. EU total funding to set up the ATO amounts now to € 10.1 million”
H.E. Ambassador Birgitte Markussen, Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union
International Trade Centre
P: +41 (0)22 730 0626
 ITC and UNCTAD (forthcoming): Unlocking Regional Trade Opportunities for in Africa for a More Sustainable and Inclusive Future. ITC, Geneva.