AfCFTA e-commerce/digital trade negotiations

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is the most ambitious trade agreement since the WTO and the foundation of the African internal market, entered into force on 1st January 2021. However, negotiations on protocols are ongoing before the agreement can fully function.
International Economics with GIZ funding, provided technical assistance to the African Union Member States to support the negotiations process on e-commerce/digital trade (Phase III), specifically in the design of future e-commerce related policies and strategies at the regional and country levels.

What We Found

Our team prepared the ground for the upcoming negotiations on e-commerce. We developed a detailed situational analysis for the AfCFTA Protocol on e-commerce, regarding current institutional, regulatory and policy/strategy frameworks, as well as international best practices. It has been noted that e-commerce between African countries continues to be constrained by non-tariff barriers and traditional challenges to cross-border trade. And, whilst COVID-19 has given a boost to e-commerce, the region lags behind others in the 2020 UNCTAD B2C E-Commerce Index. Based on this analysis, the team also provided several trainings at the continental, regional and national levels. The AU Member States (MS) acknowledge the importance of the digital economy.

Our Strategy and Impact

Given that many areas in e-commerce are still in its infancy, our policy recommendations included: • Recognising the AfCFTA MS’ intention for the Protocol to coexist with their existing international Agreements; • Recognising the AfCFTA intention for the Protocol on e-commerce to be the basis of a comprehensive digital trade agreement between all MS; • Recognising the role of technology to facilitate interoperability of systems can play in ensuring the AfCFTA Protocol on e-commerce can make removing digital barriers to trade; and • Recognising the role that the adoption of international open standards in facilitating interoperability between digital systems and enhancing value-added products and services in ensuring the AfCFTA Protocol on e-commerce can make removing digital barriers to trade.

Our Core Solutions

The AfCFTA presents a window of opportunity for regional businesses to develop e-commerce and improve supply chain management in the continent. As e-commerce in Africa is dominated by a handful of countries, it is necessary for policymakers and the private sector to seize opportunities to develop the emerging e-commerce presence. At International Economics, we can assist in creating an enabling environment for e-commerce, in devising digital marketing solutions, e-commerce platform recommendations and policies.

Project Areas

International Business Strategy

E-Commerce and Digital Trade

Policy and Negotiations

Risk Management

Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning

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