By Tahirou Gouro

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), through its Sub-Regional Office for West Africa and the European Union (EU), the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group and the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), in collaboration with the Ministry of Industrial Development, Trade, Handicrafts and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises of Burkina Faso, UNDP and the African Union Commission (AUC) organized a national consultations workshop for civil society actors on the content of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) strategy, in Ouagadougou from May 31 to June 1.

The objective of this meeting with civil society actors was to inform them on the key orientations of the National Strategy for the implementation of the Agreement in Burkina Faso, and in particular the flagship actions of the action plan.  

Specifically, the aim was to:

  • Present the AfCFTA Agreement to civil society actors, in particular its key provisions and opportunities for Burkina Faso;
  • Present the main orientations of the AfCFTA national strategy to civil society actors;
  • Discuss the expectations of civil society in the implementation of the AfCFTA;
  • Agree on the best approaches for appropriating the AfCFTA national strategy and successfully integrating Burkina Faso into the African market.

In his speech at the opening ceremony of the workshop, Souleymane Ouédraogo, Director of Trade at the General Directorate of Commerce in Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Industrial Development, Trade, Handicrafts and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, asserted that “Civil society players are in a way the citadel for giving advice, to ensure that public interventions in particular can meet the needs and expectations of consumers, of the population quite simply”.

According to Mr. Souleymane Ouédraogo, “These actors are essential, and it’s really important that we involve them so that the implementation of the AfCFTA is inclusive, taking into account our reality and the diversity of our populations”.

Privat Denis Akochaye, speaking on behalf of Ngone Diop, Director of the ECA’s Sub-Regional Office for West Africa, said that “We hope to facilitate citizen vigilance and good knowledge and dissemination of information on the AfCFTA on the one hand, and on the other, to elicit the full commitment of key actors such as yourselves to advocate this important agreement for Africa and also for Burkina Faso”.

“In the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region, the effective implementation of the AfCFTA should generate more gains than at the regional level (a surplus of 32% compared with aggregate gains at the continental level), particularly in terms of intra-African trade, GDP and well-being”, explained Privat Denis Akochaye.

“As a member state of the ECOWAS, Burkina Faso stands to benefit greatly from the economic and social opportunities offered by implementation of the AfCFTA. The fact that the country is part of the first group of countries to have deposited its instruments of ratification, including its tariff concession list, and to have a AfCFTA national strategy already underway, marks a step forward for the country in the implementation of the agreement on the continent”, he concluded.

These national consultations workshop for civil society actors on the content of the AfCFTA national strategy was attended by 60 actors from the Permanent Secretariat of Non-Governmental Organizations (SPONG).