ADDIS ABABA – A new African Continental Free Trade Area Country Business Index (ACBI) Report was unveiled by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
The ACBI report is expected to be a key instrument through which businesses in Africa can articulate to policymakers their main trade challenges under the free trade agreement.
The report, launched virtually on Monday, covers seven countries including Angola, Cote D’Ivoire, Gabon, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, and South Africa.
The index is the first comprehensive tool based on a robust methodological framework and data collection, according to ECA.
The data and analysis in the report aggregates the opinions of businesses in Africa and articulates them in an index that ranks countries by how well they are implementing the AfCFTA, said Stephen Karingi, Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division of the ECA.
“The index provides a unique and powerful monitoring and evaluation tool for AU member states to understand the private sector take of the AfCFTA,” Karingi added.
Karingi summarized the recommendations of the ACBI survey results, which concludes that although scores vary across countries, in general, female-owned firms are disproportionately impeded by several aspects of the trading regime as compared to their male counterparts when investing and trading goods across African borders.
“Therefore, it is critical to accompany women using specific policy measures to ensure their active participation in intra-African trade and investment,” Karingi stated.
Among many other bottlenecks to be addressed, the survey results revealed that trade policy measures need to be taken at national and continental levels to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers and simplify administrative procedures.
“This can be done through the effective implementation of the AfCFTA in line with the private sector expectations,” Karingi noted.
The AfCFTA agreement officially commenced operationalization a year ago, forming the cornerstone of trade integration in Africa. Its objective encompasses the creation of a single continental market and aims to enhance competitiveness at the enterprise level.