Africa Gets Private Sector Trade, Investment Committee


Emma Okonji

Africa’s leading private sector institutions and corporates have established a Pan-African Private Sector Trade and Investment Committee (PAFTRAC) to serve as an advocacy platform to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and enhance African private sector participation in trade and investment policy formulation, including trade negotiations.

A communique issued in Addis Ababa last week at the end of a meeting co-hosted by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the African Union Commission, said PAFTRAC would enhance African private sector participation and galvanise the views of the African private sector, mainstreaming them into trade and investment policy making.
“By providing a framework for effective public-private partnership in the promotion of African trade, PAFTRAC will enhance the integration of Africa into the global economy and contribute to the transformation of African economies in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want,” the communique stated.

Speaking during the meeting, which was co-chaired by African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Amb. Albert Muchanga, and President/Chairman of the Board of Directors of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, the Commissioner said PAFTRAC was an important stepping-stone towards the establishment of the African Business Council provided for under the AfCFTA Framework.

Oramah said it was imperative for the African private sector to play a more active role in shaping the parameters of trade and investment policy at the national, regional and continental levels for its own benefit and to achieve the transformation of African economies.

PAFTRAC will be driven by a group of leaders comprising chief executives of leading African businesses and financial institutions, representatives of regional African business councils and chambers of commerce. It will also include representatives of African policy and research institutions.

The meeting elected the founder of the Centre for Value in Leadership, Nigeria, Prof. Patrick Utomi, as the first Chairperson of PAFTRAC for a two-year term. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Utomi is a professor of political economy and a management expert. He will be supported by vice-chairpersons drawn from different regions of the continent.

PAFTRAC members are said to be committed to mobilising wider private sector support for the PAFTRAC initiative and adopted a work programme for the period 2019 to 2021, which will, among others, focus on Trade Finance; Trade Facilitation; Non-Tariff Measures; and Africa’s external trade and investment relations.