Boosting intra-Africa agricultural trade crucial for continent’s economic development

Nairobi, Kenya, 8 October 2019 – A senior Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) expert says boosting intra-Africa agricultural trade is crucial to spur economies on the continent and ensure there is food security across nations.

In remarks to a workshop organized by the ECA, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO), to review two intra-Africa trade oriented documents, Ms. Joan Kagwanja of the ECA’s African Land Policy Centre (ALPC), stressed the importance of promoting sustainable agricultural value chain development and the harnessing of mutual market opportunities on the continent.

She also stressed that it was urgent for the continent to have supporting frameworks that promote intra-Africa agricultural trade. These should be socially responsible and environmentally friendly.

Ms. Kagwanja pointed out the centrality of land as a key enabler for agricultural investment in the African context, a necessary condition for accelerating intra-Africa trade, hence the need to expedite land policy reform within the broader context of agricultural transformation on the continent.

“That is why we should focus on building the capacity of our major regional or continental institutions and our governments to address policy issues related to intra-Africa agriculture trade. We also need to develop a center of excellency for regional agricultural value chains,” she said.

The two documents under spotlight during the validation workshop were the Guidelines for the Development of Regional Agricultural Value Chains in Africa, developed by ECA and AUC; and the Framework for Boosting Intra-Africa Trade in Agricultural Commodities and Services, that was developed by the FAO and AUC.

For his part, ECA’s Medhat El-Helepi, noted that African countries sourced only 20 percent of their food imports from within the continent.

“Africa urgently needs to secure food and agricultural goods from within Africa. This would see the continent sharing at least $30 billion dollars annually, almost six times higher than the agricultural ODA received by Africa annually,” he said.

To do this, Mr. El-Helepi said, African countries would need to shift from rhetoric to smart actions to expedite the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

It is in this regard that the ECA developed the guidelines to assist governments, as well as Regional Economic Commissions, to undertake interventions that would help strengthen regional value chain actors and improve relations among actors along value chains, with special focus being put on smallholder farmers and other small-scale actors.

For his part, FAO’s Jean Senahoun said his organisation was keen to help accelerate intra-Africa trade in agricultural goods and services with due attention being paid to food security and environmental finger print.

In his remarks, Mr. Augustin Wambo-Yamdjeu, Head of the African Union Development Agency’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), stressed that initiatives aimed at promoting inter-Africa trade in agricultural goods should be well linked to current initiatives to avoid duplication of resources and efforts.

“Everything should be designed in harmony with ongoing initiatives to avoid duplication as we seek to move to a more market-centred approach in our agricultural activities on the continent to trigger economic growth,” he said.

Mr. Komla Bissi, AUC’s Interim CAADP Coordinator highlighted the importance of accelerating intra-Africa trade in agricultural commodities as an effective means to achieve the commitment of the Malabo Declaration of tripling intra-Africa agricultural trade by 2025.

He stressed that it was urgent that the two documents, once validated by the experts, be favourably considered for endorsement by the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment of the AUC.

Mr. Bissi said it was important to mainstream the two frameworks into CCADP processes at continental, regional and national levels.

Once adopted, the documents will become key frameworks that African countries, RECs and other regional bodies can use to develop strategies, policies and programmes that promote regional agricultural value chain development and intra-Africa trade in agricultural commodities and services, within the context of the AfCFTA Agreement.

Issued by:

Communications Section
Economic Commission for Africa
PO Box 3001
Addis Ababa
Tel: +251 11 551 5826