By Tahirou Gouro

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), through its Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, in partnership with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is organizing a regional workshop from June 12 to 13 in Dakar to review the study draft report on regional value chain opportunities development in West Africa in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

This two-day workshop aims to :

  • Review and enrich the draft report of the study on the opportunities of value chains in West Africa;
  • Inform and mobilize stakeholders, including the private sector and their regional umbrella structures on the West African value chain development project in the context of the AfCFTA
  • Agree on a sub-regional roadmap on the implementation of the study’s recommendations and mainly on the development of value chains in West Africa, in coherence with ECOWAS initiatives in the related area

Value chains, whether regional or global, represent the new face of international trade. They are booming, and now account for almost half of total world trade. They are associated with a variety of benefits, including poverty reduction, income generation, structural transformation and inclusive growth. For example, it has been shown that a 1% increase in trade through value chains leads to an increase of more than 1% in a country’s per capita income, which is more than double the income gain attributed to ordinary trade (reference: World Bank, World Development Report 2020).

With the advent of the AfCFTA, intra-regional trade is expected to increase significantly. Indeed, according to ECA simulations, the implementation of the AfCFTA should generate a 33.8% increase in intra-African trade by 2045 (compared with less than 20% in 2020). This should translate into an increase in trade in agri-food products of 41.1%, industrial products of 39.0%, energy and mining products of 16.10%, and services of 39.2%. In the ECOWAS region, the effective implementation of the agreement should generate more gains than at regional level, i.e. over 32% of the gains at continental level, notably in terms of intra-African trade, including in sectors with high potential for added value, GDP and well-being.

Representatives of regional and national private sector organizations, ministries in charge of trade, industrialization, SMEs/SMIs, agriculture, various national and regional trade committees (ZLECAf, trade facilitation, etc.), regional bodies (ECOWAS, UEMOA, ZLECAf Secretariat, etc.), and UN organizations such as ECA, UNDP, UNCTAD, ITC, UNIDO will take part in this workshop.