Experts warn against lack of trained AfCFTA implementers

Addis Ababa, 14 May 2018 (ECA) – Capacity building will play a key role in the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Following a panel discussion on capacity building for the implementation of the AfCFTA held on 13 May in Addis Ababa, experts, high level officials, investors, civil society and private sector representatives agreed on the need for African countries to urgently evaluate and respond to the current lack of training among civil servants, negotiators and other key AfCFTA implementation actors. 

According to ECA studies, the set-up of an African single market could help consolidate and speed up the region’s economic growth and strengthen its competitiveness on the global market. However, to achieve these objectives, the AfCFTA would have to go through several implementation stages including the negotiation of regional rules in areas such as competition, investment or intellectual property. African countries must therefore equip themselves with capacities that will enable them to benefit as much as possible from the AfCFTA.

According to ACBF, insufficient capacities among AfCFTA implementers could pose a real threat to African trade ambitions as only 25 out of some 42 treaties and agreements signed by the Organization of the African Union and the African Union between 1963 and 2014 have been ratified so far possibly due to the lack of national capacities to facilitate their ratification and implementation.

In order for the AfCFTA to become a reality, African countries and regional economic communities should acquire human and institutional capacities that will enable them to quickly ratify the agreement as well as draft and apply implementation road maps.

African countries need to train their human resources in areas such as trade agreement negotiation, coordination, follow-up and evaluation, or technical know-hows (e.g. Africa lacked 4.3 million engineers in 2016). Countries would also need training in areas such as transformative leadership, change readiness, new technologies, innovation, etc.

Participants also discussed related issues such as the kind of difficulties governments are faced with when seeking to attract and keep high level profiles in their ranks or how to achieve Africa’s transformation thanks to talents identified among the African diasporas and youths.

This round table was jointly organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Capacity Buidling Foundation (ACBF) as a side event to the 51st Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. Key participants included AUC Commissioner for Trade and Industry Albert Muchanga, ACBF Executive Secretary Emmanuel Nnadozie, IDEP’s (African Institute for Economic Development and Planning) head of the Training and Research Division Mustapha Sadni Jallab as well as Bahati Maburuki, advisor to the Private Office of the DRC Ministry of Planning, Zmedeneh Negatu, Global Chairman of Fairfax Africa Fund, Afeikhena Jerome, International Consultant and Samson Kebede, Youth Ambassador at the National Youth Council.


For details about the conference, related videos and information for participants, visit:

For more on the Side Events:

For details on the Regional Coordination Mechanism:

Join the conversation at @ECA_Official: #2018COM ; #AfCFTA


Issued by:

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