Economic Development in Africa Report 2021


Reaping the potential benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area for inclusive growth

The African Continental Free Trade Area is expected to be a game changer for development ambitions in Africa. It arrives at a crucial time, marked by the increased poverty levels and socioeconomic setbacks African countries have experienced due to the coronavirus disease pandemic, and its related financial, climatic and food-related shocks.

The launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area is therefore a unique opportunity to promote inclusive growth and accelerate the achievement of the post-pandemic recovery, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

The Economic Development in Africa Report 2021 seeks to understand and build upon these much-needed opportunities. The Report provides an assessment of how the region can inclusively benefit from its unexploited trade potential under the African Continental Free Trade Area.

The question of how regional integration and inclusive growth can be mutually beneficial, has concerned researchers and policymakers over many years but has been particularly unexplored in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area. We have sought to give a compelling answer to it here.

The Report adds additional insights on the vulnerabilities of women and youth, particularly in informal employment and informal cross-border trade. It also highlights the importance of partnerships in operationalizing the African Continental Free Trade Area, to effectively foster inclusive growth and post-pandemic resilience in the region.