CoDA actively supports the Africa’s Regional Integration efforts, which has and will remain a priority for the African Union as clarified in its continental development agenda – Agenda 2063. This support comes in the form of stimulating cooperation by various stakeholders towards the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA, a flagship project of Agenda 2063, is a landmark initiative with the potential to bring sustainable transformative change to Africa by promoting regional trade, and assisting African countries to achieve robust economic growth and sustainable development. It holds the promise to transform Africa by generating the world’s biggest single market for goods and services by number of countries. It also provides an opportunity for African businesses to expand their operations bearing in mind that the AfCFTA is their new domestic market. However, additional efforts must be made to secure the full ownership of the implementation process by none state actors. It is therefore important for various stakeholder groups in the continent to gain a better understanding of their role and the implications of this initiative on the lives and livelihoods of people.
Since 2019, CoDA has worked solely, and in collaboration with the AU Department of Trade & Industry as well as other partners – AFREXIMBANK, AfDB, AfroChampions, to reach out to key stakeholders, including parliamentarians, academia, civil society and the private sector to foster dialogues on the benefits and implications of the AfCFTA. Typically marginalized groups such as women, youth and African civil society in particular are a crucial focus of CoDA’s work in this and other agendas. CoDA actively plays a vital role in ensuring that platforms for dialogue on the AfCFTA are open to these stakeholders and that their views are particularly taken into account. Given its position and experience in enabling discussion between varying participants at all levels, CoDA endeavours to make certain that the AfCFTA supports the development of these marginalized groups and that African policy makers give regard to their growth within this context.
Accordingly, CoDA also commissions research papers and organizes associated policy dialogues to establish the implications of the AfCFTA on marginally ignored groups such as youth, women and the disabled to ensure continued/structured engagement between AU and these none state actors. This enables the necessary linkage of knowledge to policy formulation at the regional level and in turn, supports national level follow up on the relevant decisions and outcomes of these dialogues.
Given that the success and operations of the AfCFTA depend on the private sector, the AUC and CoDA also play a facilitating role in the establishment of the African Business Council (ABC), which represents the voices of the Pan-African Private Sector Associations, as envisaged by the African Union Boosting Intra-Africa Trade (BIAT) Action Plan. The proposed architecture of the AfCFTA provides for the African Business Council, as a necessary continental platform for aggregating and articulating the views of the private sector in the continental policy formulation processes. The Business Council shall play an advisory
role in the continental policy formulation processes and will communicate its views and positions through the AUC.
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