- They will closely collaborate in trade facilitation and financing in order to grow trade across the continent.
- The organizations are keen to support implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which became effective in 2021.
- The AfCFTA aims to create a continent-wide market of USD3.4 trillion and 1.3 billion people.
Leading aid for trade organization TradeMark Africa -TMA (formerly TradeMark East Africa), global government advisory organisation, Tony Blair Institute (TBI) and catalytic fund Trade Catalyst Africa (TCA) have come together to support trade in Africa.
TCA is a subsidiary of TMA.
The three have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to closely collaborate in trade facilitation
and trade finance in order to grow trade across the continent.
The organizations are keen to support implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which became effective in 2021.
The AfCFTA aims to create a continent-wide market of USD3.4 trillion and 1.3 billion people, where goods from one corner trade freely in another. If fully implemented, the AfCFTA could lift thirty million people out of poverty by 2035, trade experts say, based on trade between African countries growing by more than 50 per cent.
The success of the trade pact – and of greater trade integration more widely – hinges on the removal
of trade barriers across Africa.
These include significant transport infrastructure gaps, cumbersome and unautomated trade processes, and differing customs regimes that delay goods moving freely.
TMA, TBI and TCA will be deploying their strong expertise in trade facilitation projects, policy advice to governments and innovative finance to help resolve these trade bottlenecks, a joint statement notes.
Past interventions by the three organizations in Africa include supporting the implementation of trade corridor efficiency programmes, delivering tech-based solutions for trade licensing and customs administration, helping governments harmonize and automate trade standards, generating holistic government trade and export promotion strategies, and facilitating trade and infrastructure finance.
Speaking at the MoU signing in Nairobi on Tuesday, TMA chief executive David Beer welcomed the
partnership as one that will create the right synergies in driving economic growth.
“At TMA, we are proud of the trade facilitation that we have undertaken across the East, Horn, and Southern Africa over the last decade. This has made significant contributions to reducing the time and cost of trade, as well as expanding exports,” Beer said.
The collaboration, Beer said, will help AfCFTA member states create “a truly seamless trading environment in Africa.”
TBI managing director Rishon Chimboza said the partnership will be focused on ensuring the continent unleashes its trade potential.
“Unleashing the power of trade in Africa could lift thirty million people across the continent out of extreme poverty by 2035. This agreement is a very significant step that harnesses the strengths of TBI and our partners – TradeMark Africa and Trade Catalyst Africa – and catalyses common cause in growing trade and supporting implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, ” Chimboza said.
TBI director, Trade and Infrastructure for Africa, Frank Matsaert, said: “We can achieve much more impact than by working alone. We will aim to catalyse investment into infrastructure and trade finance; support trade reforms and better trade facilitation; help agricultural and manufactured exports grow, and most importantly help Africa’s continental market blossom to create millions of jobs.”
TCA chairman Patrick Obath welcomed the MoU, saying it was taking effect at a time when intra-African
trade is gaining momentum.
“At TCA, we will be supporting commercially viable trade infrastructure projects across the continent to complement public and donor funded projects. This is key to addressing the significant physical infrastructure gaps that currently make it hard to move goods from one region to another efficiently.”
He said the team will also provide trade finance to businesses, which is a lifeline for many traders.
“Partnering with TMA and TBI will undoubtedly expand the scale of our interventions,” Obath said.
The MoU spells out the key areas of collaboration; namely: trade facilitation, standards development, support to the AfCFTA implementation, digitization of trade processes, industrialization, trade infrastructure and green logistics, support to cross border traders, and knowledge sharing.
The parties will decide on a project basis to conduct joint scoping, strategic political engagement, co-investment, fundraising and proposal development, joint analysis, or any other activity beneficial for achieving a project requirement.
TradeMark Africa is an Aid-for-Trade organization that was established in 2010, with the aim of growing prosperity through increased trade.
It operates on a not-for-profit basis and is funded by Belgium, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, the United
Kingdom, and the United States of America.
TMA works closely with regional intergovernmental organizations, including the African Union (AU), the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the East Africa Community (EAC), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), national Governments, the private sector and civil society organizations.
The first two strategic periods of TMA (2010-2023) have contributed to substantial gains for trade and regional integration in East Africa and the Horn of Africa in terms of decreased cargo transit times
(reduction of 16.5% on the Northern Corridor from Mombasa to Bujumbura), improved border efficiency (the time to cross targeted one stop border posts has been reduced by an average of 70%), and reduced barriers to trade.
The continental-wide shift and rebrand to TMA was officially launched in West Africa in January 2023, with Ghana being the first country of operations in the region.
TMA’s headquarters are in Nairobi, Kenya.
The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change is also a not-for-profit that equips governments to respond to
today’s challenges and seize tomorrow’s opportunities.
It supports governments and leaders build open, inclusive, and prosperous societies in an increasingly interconnected world.
TBI has a global team of more than six hundred people that works in more than thirty countries across four
continents to support leaders with strategy, policy, and delivery.
Trade Catalyst Africa (TCA) on the other hand is a catalytic finance facility wholly owned by TradeMark Africa that aims to increase exports and intra-regional trade from Africa.
It will pilot commercially viable projects for creating trade infrastructure (both physical and digital) as well as increasing access to Trade Finance for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The entity will identify, develope, derisk, invest in, mobilize financing for, and manage investment projects, thereby alleviating financing gaps in the current environment of constrained donor and government financing.