ECA, EU agree to help speed up Africa’s single market

ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe

On the margins of the Africa-Europe conference which took place in Vienna Tuesday, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the European Union signed a €3million agreement aimed at supporting national implementation strategies for the continental free trade area.

The establishment of an African trade observatory is also planned, and will be a key pillar of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The agreement was signed by the ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe and the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica.

Ms Songwe also spoke at the high level segment of the conference, which was holding on the theme: Taking development cooperation on to the digital age.

In her statement, she stressed the need for harmonization as part of the integration process.

“The SDGs demand that we take development to the digital age. We must also integrate the Continent digitally for a more diversified and prosperous Africa,” she said.

The free trade area is one of the key priorities of Africa´s Agenda 2063 and a flagship project for the continent. Signed by 49 African countries and 14 countries have ratified and 8 more are needed to reach the threshold of 22

The AfCFTA aims at providing a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments.

Its goal is to accelerate Intra-Africa trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation. Through these measures, the establishment of the AfCFTA is expected to gather impetus to boost economic growth and attract investments from both within Africa and the world.

The EU has been supporting the AfCFTA negotiations processes since inception.