Addis Ababa — The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) convened an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) from 2 to 3 September in Addis Ababa to review, critique and refine a draft methodology for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Country Business Index (ACBI).
Businesses currently face many constraints including high trade costs, divergent regulatory frameworks and governance issues that undermine their effective operations on the African continent. These bottlenecks are expected to be addressed by an effective implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement. The proposed ACBI is a robust tool designed for measuring and monitoring businesses' experience with AfCFTA implementation at the country level.
Mr. David Luke, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre, in his opening remarks said, "the Index will not only further contribute to better understanding of the challenges that private sector operators and traders at various levels face but also provide a tool for articulating their challenges to policy makers".
On his part, Mr. Prudence Sebahizi, Chief Technical Advisor and Head of the AfCFTA Unit of the African Union Commission (AUC), noted that the ACBI should be designed in a way that it complements other initiatives and tools including the African Trade Observatory and Pan-African Payment and Settlement System that aim at supporting the implementation of the AfCFTA. He further called upon experts to fine tune the methodology to be developed using indicators that are easily measurable and understandable to support policy making decisions that maximize the AfCFTA benefits for the private sector.
During the meeting, the proposed dimensions and indicators of the ACBI were critically reviewed and improvements have been suggested. A proposed survey instrument for collecting data from private and public businesses that produce/trade across borders in Africa was evaluated.
The ACBI methodology will be refined and piloted in selected countries, Cameroun and Zambia, and be validated in the month of November 2019.
The Meeting was attended by experts from Member States, Regional Economic Communities, the private sector, academia and development institutions with interest in regional integration issues and in particular in the AfCFTA.
This EGM is part of a wider project aimed at deepening Africa's trade integration through effective implementation of the AfCFTA. Financially supported by the European Union, ECA has been working with its partners including the African Union Commission (AUC), International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Afreximbank and a selection of independent trade experts contribute to an effective AfCFTA implementation.