Improved Agro-Industrial Policy to Harness AFCFTA Potential
Committing to promote intra-Africa trade, the Head of AU State and Government endorsed the Africa Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in March 2019. AfCFTA aims basically to boost intra-African trade by providing a
comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade agreement among the member states, covering trade in goods and services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy. In support is the Boosting Intra
African Trade (BIAT) which aims to deepen Africa’s market integration and significantly increasing the volume of trade that African countries undertake amongst themselves from the current levels of about 10-13% to
25% or more within the next decade and the Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa(AIDA).
Recognizing the transformational outcomes of industrialization, the Heads of AU State and Government endorsed and adopted the Plan of Action for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA). AIDA aims
to mobilise both financial and nonfinancial resources and enhance Africa’s industrial performance. The heads of AU State and Government directed the African Union Commission to speedily operationalize it in collaboration
with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and other development partners.
Governments have to ensure better management of its commodities and natural resources for the benefit of Africa’s people and to drive economic growth. In the Agenda 2063, the Continental Commodities Strategy
aims to identify, formulate and drive the implementation of policies and programmes that will enable African countries to add value, extract higher rents from their commodities, integrate into global value chains and
promote vertical and horizontal diversification anchored in value addition and local content development. The strategy envisions a commodity-led industrialisation which focuses on developing Africa’s commodities as a
driver for achieving the structural, social and economic transformation of the continent. Related, the recently endorsed Continental Agribusiness Strategy provides a framework for the promotion of agribusiness, including
agro-industry, in Africa with focus on necessary pillars for advancement.
For Africa to achieve the Agenda 2063 aspiration for “A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development” (Aspiration 1), the continent needs to address gender-specific barriers while investing
in modern agriculture for increased productivity and production (Goal 1.5) as well as exploiting the vast potential of Africa’s blue/ocean economy (Goal 1.6). in fact, effective land governance and management is
indispensable to efforts to promote inclusive and sustainable socioeconomic development in support of Africa’s structural transformation. Effective land governance incentivizes farmers to adopt productivity
enhancing technologies, facilitates responsible large-scale land-based investments and strengthens private sector engagement.
Moreover, empirical evidence indicates that if female farmers used the same level of resources as men on the land they farm, they would achieve the same yield levels. The yield gap between men and women averages
around 20–30 per cent, attributed to differences in resource use as research suggests. Addressing land tenure insecurity is particularly important if women and other vulnerable groups are to access productive resources
and benefit equally from AfCFTA related opportunities. Intra-African trade in food and agricultural products is estimated to experience an increase 20 to 30 percent as a consequence of AfCFTA. Targeted and gender mainstreaming measures are required to ensure women are well positioned to benefit from opportunities and not further marginalized.
In addition, action needs to be taken to address climate change issues and other environmental factors that pose a great risk to the agricultural sector (Goal 1.7). Moreover, realizing Aspiration 1 would essentially necessitate
that shared prosperity is built through social and economic transformation of the continent through manufacturing, value addition, and science and technology-driven innovation, including in Africa’s first-born
industry, agro-industry (Goal 1.4).
It is worth mentioning that the ecological aspect should not be ignored in the process. Some African countries are making good progress, with a focus on water, energy and agriculture, systematically building low-carbon
development and climate resilience into their plans and decision-making. But many countries have yet to focus on how best to harness the post-2015 momentum in climate and sustainability and use it to accelerate their
own plans for growth, structural transformation and sustainable industrialization.
It is now the ideal time to redesign long-term growth plans to deliver green and inclusive industrialization. African countries can stand back and watch others take the lead in building a green economy or they can benefit
from their current low-carbon position and leapfrog the process. Following the latter strategy means that many African economies can get it right the first time. It is within the framework of revamping agro-industrial
development in Africa and support to the implementation of AIDA in the context of the COVID-19, that AUC, AUDA-NEPAD and IDEP are organizing a four-week online course on Improved Agro-Industrial Policy to
harness AfCFTA potential.
The aim of the course is to contribute to strengthening capacity at the national and regional levels for effective design and implementation of policy catalysing accelerated growth in the continent’s agro-industry in support of the AfCFTA ambitions for inclusive, sustained economic development. The course will address the policy concerns as expressed by most African governments, which include, among others, improving agricultural output and productivity, nurturing the linkages between agriculture and the industry sector in particular, without leaving behind other economic sectors, increasing national food security, combating poverty, expanding employment, promoting environmental sustainability, and enhancing sustainable rural livelihoods, including gender equality. The course also aims to sensitize on the importance of the adoption of a cross-sector approach in the formulation of policies. In doing so, the course will expose participants not only to the current state of knowledge and the comparative lessons which are available to Africa, but also some of the best practices that serve as pertinent examples of how an integrated and comprehensive agro-industrial policy has been used to promote economic transformation and social well-being. The specific objectives of the course are:
a) Provide information and analytical tools to strengthen the capacity of participants to formulate and implement strategies for addressing challenges and opportunities associated with attaining desired accelerated growth in regionally and globally competitive agro-industries in Africa
b) Present participants with opportunities to examine practical measures and lessons on the domestication of the Plan of Action for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA) and the AU Continental Agribusiness Strategy into national systems to galvanize local-level action, while at the same time embracing inter-dependences between industrialisation and the recently adopted AfCFTA
c) Afford participants opportunities for networking and peer learning on practices proved successful in advancing agro-industry as a prime driver for building national wealth, creating jobs and promoting entrepreneurship opportunities for rural men and women