It is truly remarkable to see the substantial progress that the African Union has achieved in implementing the Agenda 2063 in its initial decade from 2014 to 2023. This period has witnessed significant accomplishments that have laid the foundation for Africa’s development, collaboration, and strategic partnerships.
One of the most noteworthy achievements during this timeframe is the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). This visionary initiative, incorporated within the Agenda 2063 framework, is a pivotal stride towards unifying the continent’s economies. The AfCFTA’s core objective of establishing a unified market for goods and services across African nations is a strategic move to enhance intra-African trade, stimulate economic growth, and facilitate sustainable development.
It is interesting to note that on 7 October 2022, the AfCFTA Secretariat launched the Guided Trade Initiative (GTI) in Accra. This initiative marks a significant leap forward, allowing for substantial and commercially meaningful trade under the AfCFTA. The participation of eight countries – Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Tunisia – which represent diverse regions of Africa, shows the inclusivity and strategic foresight of this endeavour.
Through the GTI, these nations are leading the way in piloting and refining the operational, institutional, legal, and trade policy aspects that underpin the AfCFTA. This practical approach underscores the commitment to the successful implementation of the trade agreement and sets a precedent for other participating countries to follow.
Convergence with China
Moreover, the Agenda 2063’s emphasis on fostering cooperation between Africa and China has borne fruit through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Notable milestones, including the Johannesburg Summit in 2015, the Beijing Summit in 2018, and the Ministerial Conference in 2021, have produced measures that align seamlessly with the aspirations of Agenda 2063. This alignment underscores a shared commitment to advancing economic growth, sustainable development, and mutually beneficial partnerships.
The extensive measures and agreements stemming from the forum exemplify a deepening collaboration between Africa and China across various sectors, encompassing infrastructure development, investment, technology transfer, and more. This cooperative synergy reflects a harmonious convergence of objectives between Agenda 2063’s goals and the evolving priorities of China-Africa relations.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative has synergies with Africa’s development plans, and the GTI can enhance connectivity projects under the BRI in Africa, leading to strengthened trade and investment ties. The GTI’s promotion of intra-African trade and connectivity aligns with the BRICS group’s emphasis on South-South cooperation and joint efforts to strengthen global economic governance.
The GTI’s success can contribute to increased trade among BRICS and African countries, fostering economic growth and diversification in both regions. The effective implementation of GTI can highlight Africa’s commitment to economic integration and reform. Successful outcomes from the GTI can bolster the African Union’s position and credibility within international economic forums like the G20, enabling Africa to contribute more substantively to global economic discussions.
The next decade of Agenda 2063 is expected to witness several key developments.
First, the GTI’s facilitation of trade and connectivity is likely to lead to increased trade volumes among African countries. This can stimulate economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction, contributing to Agenda 2063’s goals.
Second, as intra-African trade expands, it can drive demand for various products and services within the continent. This demand can encourage industrialisation and diversification of African economies, reducing reliance on commodity exports.
Third, the GTI can serve as a stepping stone towards deeper regional integration. As trade barriers are addressed and infrastructure improves, African nations can collaborate more closely on various fronts, such as infrastructure projects and joint investments.
And fourth, the success of the GTI and the AfCFTA can enhance Africa’s global influence and attractiveness as an investment destination. This can lead to increased foreign direct investment and partnerships with major economies, including China.
The author is the Director of the Diplomatic Society. African Times has published the article in partnership with ChinAfrica Magazine.