The African Union Commission (AUC) and the International Trade Center (ITC) have come together to strengthen their existing partnership. The two groups signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, marking the beginning of a new chapter.
The primary objective of this collaboration is to promote inclusive trade in Africa by integrating small enterprises into the regional economy, while facilitating the sharing of trade information and market intelligence across the continent through the African Trade Observatory (ATO).
The renewed agreement is a response to the changing dynamics of the global economy and the ongoing process of regional integration in Africa, firmly anchored by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It reiterates the shared vision and joint efforts of the African Union and a leading UN agency to focus on small business development.
A number of key areas are outlined in the collaboration framework. First, the focus will be on developing the African Trade Lab, an online tool developed by the ITC that provides real-time trade data to policymakers and businesses.
In addition, efforts will be made to develop critical continental value chains to strengthen industrial growth. Taking advantage of the AfCFTA, integration of small businesses into the regional trade process will also be prioritized. Finally, economic empowerment of women and young entrepreneurs will be mainstreamed to promote inclusive trade.
Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals (ETTIM) Commissioner High Commissioner Albert Muchanga said, “This MoU reinforces the already strong relationship between the two institutions. It will promote the implementation of the African Union SME Strategy, the functioning of the ATO, the protection of intellectual property rights and the promotion of private sector development in Africa.
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, ITC Managing Director, commented on the agreement, „Through this new agreement, our two companies enhance our collaboration to deliver on our shared vision of an interconnected, industrialized and inclusive Africa. Together, we can help small businesses integrate into regional and continental value chains. We will continue to equip them with the information and skills – and the visibility they need through the Made in Africa label – so they can earn more, create quality jobs and transform communities.”
The African Union Council of Heads of State and Government has announced 'Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation’ as the theme for 2023. As part of ongoing efforts, AUC and ITC will conduct training sessions for small businesses attending the Africa-Africa Trade Fair. AU Women Implementation Summit in Cairo, Egypt in November.
These sessions will focus on equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to compete and transact in the African market. Also, the ATO database will be expanded and companies will be trained in effective use of the tool for business expansion. The ITC will lend its support to the AU in fully implementing its Enterprise Africa Network aimed at strengthening the continent’s overall business environment and facilitating smooth trade processes for businesses.
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