The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has signed a strategic partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to enable the promotion of trade as a stimulus to lead the socioeconomic recovery of Africa’s from the COVID-19 crisis, while also serving as a driver of sustainable development in the continent, particularly for women and youth, in line with the SDGs and Agenda 2063 common vision for the continent.

The agreement was signed at a meeting which had in attendance the AfCFTA Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Wamkele Mene, accompanied by Ambassador Fatima Mohammed Kyari, Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, and by the UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa.

The Secretary-General noted that: “The AfCFTA is beyond a trade liberalizing 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 youth are the leading beneficiaries of the AfCFTA.”

The partnership will seek to leverage UNDP’s presence in all African countries while working in close collaboration with other UN entities. And, with direct support to the AfCFTA Secretariat through a financial grant of US$3 million, it is expected that it will enhance AfCFTA Secretariat advocacy among policymakers, business, civil society, academia, youth, and other stakeholders.

Speaking for the UNDP, Ms. Ahunna explained that the “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

“If we succeed, we will have contributed to creating stronger and more resilient inclusive and green economies in Africa characterized by rising incomes, jobs, more balanced trade, and better returns from Africa’s natural resources”