The Africa Trade Exchange (ATEX), a business-to-business (B2B) e-commerce platform, was launched during the official opening of the 54th Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning, and Economic Development (CoM2022) on 16 May in Dakar, Senegal. The launch took place in the presence of Senegal’s president, Macky Sall, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union.
The platform was developed by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union and the AfCFTA Secretariat to serve as a B2B and business-to-government (B2G) digital marketplace. ATEX will enable pooled procurement of basic commodities to ensure countries have access to scarce supplies in a transparent manner.
ATEX is connected to the digital ecosystem to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and provide buyers and member States with quality products from verified suppliers in a more efficient way at average cost, thereby improving cross-border trade.
In the medium term, ATEX will respond to the agricultural and input scarcity resulting from the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The platform is geared towards accelerating food sovereignty through the revitalization of African agricultural production by connecting the demand for main agricultural commodities and inputs to major suppliers from the continent and, where necessary, from outside the continent.
In the longer term, ATEX aims to fulfill a business need by providing a comprehensive marketplace to facilitate the selling and buying of locally manufactured products within the continent based on AfCFTA rules.
Digital trade under the AfCFTA facilitated by ATEX will enable African firms to integrate regional suppliers into their own supply chains, harnessing the resilience offered by regional value chains and efficiency from trade facilitation - reduced tariff and non-tariff barriers on the continent.
Highlighting the successes of the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) in supporting bulk procurement of medical supplies and equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic, President Sall congratulated the parties involved in creating ATEX to similarly help AU Member States collaborate to overcome the current crises, including the impact of the Ukraine crisis, COVID recovery, and limited fiscal space in African economies. He called on all African countries to use this platform to boost the intra-African trade.
UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the ECA, Vera Songwe, noted that the ATEX platform was an African solution to both short and longer-term challenges facing the continent. She said the launch of ATEX was an important step towards the attainment of AU’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals by ensuring Africa's access to scarce resources at an affordable price, expansion of SMEs through access to wider markets, more resilient regional value chains and supply chains, and increased intra-African trade, which are all critical to the sustainable economic growth of the continent.
Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank highlighted that Afreximbank is proud to have worked with ECA, AFCFTA Secretariat, and African Union Commission in developing the ATEX platform. “It adds to the suite of digital platforms that will constitute the African Trade Gateway we are collectively implementing to support AfCFTA implementation.”
Today, added Mr. Oramah, ATEX equips the continent with a formidable tool that can mitigate the negative impact of the current food crisis on Africa by supporting pooled procurement. It will also create the opportunity for boosting intra- African trade by easing access to markets. “We are proud to be providing the payment and trade services in support of ATEX operations.”
For his part, Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), noted that ATEX will facilitate intra-Africa trade under the AfCFTA through an online common marketplace where African buyers and suppliers can connect, trade, and expand their markets