On Africa Day, we celebrate 60 years since the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now the African Union (AU). Created in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the African Union (AU), has always celebrated “Africa Day” on 25 of May, in recognition of the vision and milestones achieved towards “An Integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.”
As we commemorate Africa Day and mark the 60th anniversary of the African Union (AU), we honor a legacy built on unity, resilience, and consistent progress towards an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa. The significance of this day has been amplified this year under the aptly chosen slogan: “Our Africa Our Future“.
A notable accomplishment of the AU has been the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in 2018. This regional trade pact exemplifies Africa’s commitment to unity, progress, and shared prosperity, making the “Acceleration of AfCFTA implementation” an apt theme for the year.
Technical assistance for regional economic blocs
Imani Development has played a significant role in promoting the African trade agenda on the continent, working on numerous projects to do with the AfCFTA, trade policy, trade negotiations, trade facilitation, non-tariff barriers and EPAs. We have been providing technical assistance support at continental, regional and national level to help strengthen legislative and institutional frameworks for managing trade.
Our involvement with regional integration in Africa dates back to the mid-1980s when Imani was involved in the early stages of development for Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). In 1998, Imani was contracted to provide support in economic integration to the East African Cooperation Secretariat as it prepared to launch the revived East African Community (EAC).
Between 2003 and 2009, we were responsible for the implementation of DFID’s Regional Trade Facilitation Programme (RTFP) in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). At the time, this was DFID’s flagship regional trade and integration project worldwide. The RTFP aimed to facilitate increased trade in the ESA region and aid contribution to the larger goal of job creation and increased incomes for the poor within the SADC and COMESA regions, and subsequently the EAC region. This was achieved through our implementation team working closely with the Secretariats of COMESA, EAC and SADC to facilitate their regional integration agendas as well as with national public and private sectors stakeholders. This programme pioneered an initiative to harmonise the free trade areas of the three Regional Economic Communities in the region.
Technical assistance for the African Union
We believe that the AfCFTA is much more than a trade agreement. It is a tool for sustainable development. We are now witnessing the maturing of trade in Africa: A new era in trade has arrived!
In 2021, Imani was consulted by the UNDP and AfCFTA Secretariat to develop a road map identifying priority value chains that will promote Africa’s structural transformation and fast-track the achievement of UN Agenda 2030. This Road Map assessed target sectors that hold opportunities for AfCFTA member states, following the tariff and services offers that have been exchanged. Each of the different value chains identified provided a different perspective that is not only about new product and country-level opportunities for trade, but also how those opportunities will contribute to the realisation of AU Goals and the SDGs.
Imani was also involved in developing statutes and a resource mobilisation plan for the AfCFTA Adjustment Facility. The main objective of the facility is to enable eligible countries to manage the adverse effects of revenue losses, provide assistance in the creation and retention of private sector jobs, and to stimulate investments to support trade and economic growth during the adjustment period following liberalization.
Most recently, Imani was commissioned to deliver a study commissioned by the African Union Commission on Africa-US Trade & Investment Relationship Beyond 2025. This report was presented at the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) African Ministerial Coordination Meeting in December 2022 with the aim to guide African countries by providing strategic options and approaches for an enhanced partnership given the expiry of the AGOA in 2025.
Imani Development is currently involved in an ongoing study of Environmental Social, and Governance (ESG) among the African private sector, which has been commissioned by the African Union Commission. This study seeks to understand the ESG of African companies, exploring related activities, challenges, and attitudes. Insights from this research will enable the development of a continent-wide strategy to support African companies to improve their ESG practices, as well as increase access to finance and secure market access.
As we commemorate Africa Day and the 60th anniversary of the African Union, we are reminded of the journey the continent has undertaken – a journey marked by unity, resilience, and growth. The diamond anniversary of the AU symbolizes the resilience and strength of Africa.
Through initiatives like the AfCFTA and numerous regional economic collaborations, Africa has demonstrated its commitment to progress and prosperity. Imani Development is proud to contribute to this transformative journey, partnering to enhance trade, policy, and sustainable development across the continent.
As we embrace the slogan “Our Africa Our Future,” let us look forward to a brighter and more prosperous future, propelled by the efforts of every African nation and the AU. This is a testament to the potential that lies within the continent, the promise of a unified Africa, and a future defined by prosperity, peace, and sustainable growth. On this Africa Day, let us celebrate not only how far we’ve come, but also the immense potential that lies ahead. Happy Africa Day!