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West African stakeholders brainstorm on implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area

27 May, 2021
Intergovernmental organisations and private sector actors from West Africa in conclave to find the ways and means for a better implementation of the AfCFTA in the sub-region

Niamey, 27 May, 2021 (ECA) – Intergovernmental organizations and private sector operators in West Africa held a meeting this week to deliberate on the sub-region’s readiness to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-day virtual event from 26 to 27 May was jointly organized by the sub-regional office for West Africa of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).

 “Our quest is to build synergies among the components of our core mandates of harnessing the demographic dividend and achieving regional integration and the transformational development of West African countries,” said Ngone Diop, Director of the ECA sub-regional office for West Africa.

 “In the context of our sub-region, real gross domestic product (GDP) for West Africa slumped to 0.7 percent in 2020 from 3.5 percent in 2019, with the brunt of the negative effects of the pandemic felt mostly by Cape Verde, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Mali, and Nigeria.

This has implications for the role of the private sector as a viable driver of the implementation of the AfCFTA agreement, she said

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, Tei Konzi, said the body “attaches particular importance to the harmonious implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area for the benefit of ECOWAS member states.”

The UEMOA Commissioner in charge of Regional Markets, Trade, Competition and Cooperation, Prof. Filiga Michel Sawadogo, said: “It is not too much to develop sub-regional strategies to address certain issues of common interest and to support our member states. The AfCFTA is therefore a real opportunity for a paradigm shift in order to consolidate achievements and accelerate the development of regional value chains.”

The forum also drew participants from the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), the WAEMU Regional Consular Chamber (RCC/WAEMU), the Federation of West African Employers' Organisations (FOPAO), the West African Women's Association (AFAO-WAWA), the Young Entrepreneurs’ Association of West Africa, the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Ecobank, and the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO).


For more information, please contact: Tahirou Gouro, Communications Officer, ECA-SRO/WA,
Sub-Regional Office for West Africa
428 Avenue du Fleuve Niger
B.P. 744
Niamey, Niger