The European Business Council for Africa

In the context of the SheTrades in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) project, which supports women entrepreneurs and producers to benefit from trade opportunities under the agreement, this report presents the findings of a study, using ITC’s Export Potential Map methodology, that identifies products and markets with export growth potential in countries in the COMESA region.

About the SheTrades in the AfCFTA Project

Funded by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the SheTrades AfCFTA project aims to support women-owned businesses to benefit from trade opportunities created by the AfCFTA through capacity building, networking, and advocacy. The project is working with more than 50 women’s business associations across the continent to identify priority issues for women under the AfCFTA and foster dialogues with trade negotiators. Beyond developing concrete recommendations on Phase I and II issues, the project is supporting the creation of an Africa-wide network of women’s business associations, providing technical assistance at the national level, creating training resources to support women’s associations under the regional economic communities, and providing crisis-management toolkits to help women weather the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Project Objectives The SheTrades AfCFTA project seeks to achieve the following objectives: 1.) Raise awareness and understanding of women on priority topics related to the AfCFTA through knowledge tools, online modules, and advocacy; 2.) Develop recommendations, on both Phase I and II issues integrate priorities for women’s economic empowerment into the AfCFTA; 3.) Discuss policy advocacy strategies and how to apply them to discussions with policymakers; 4.) Provide a platform for dialogue between women’s business associations and policymakers to agree on and operationalize the recommendations; and 5.) Strengthen women’s business associations across the continent to work better together.

Key findings

Important growth opportunities for exports to Africa exists in all COMESA countries. All African markets combined, there exists an unrealized export potential of about $8 billion that COMESA exporters can tap into. Export potential will grow further under the AfCFTA: if intra-African tariffs are set to 0%, this will create an additional export growth potential of $5 billion. The size of untapped export potential in Africa as well as the potential benefits from a full implementation of the AfCFTA vary across exporters, markets, products/sectors, and combinations of those. However, each COMESA country has significant export growth opportunities in African markets under current tariffs conditions and can benefit from additional opportunities in the scenario of a full tariff liberalization under the AfCFTA. Details on the top products, sectors and markets with opportunities for each COMESA country are provided in the country profiles.

Please find the full ICT report here