Since the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in 2018, by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, the AfCFTA is the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. There has been much talk, especially in the circles of legal practitioners, concerning the operation of the AfCFTA and its impact on the businesses of their multinational clients.
The Agreement founding the AfCFTA officially commenced on 1 January 2021. As of October 2022, there are 54 signatories, of which 43 (80%) have deposited their instruments of ratification. After the official commencement, there is still much results to be seen in the signatory countries, regarding the implementation of the regime that the AfCFTA seeks to introduce to make it easier for African businesses to trade within the continent.
For this reason, it is indeed interesting to hear news of the launch of the AfCFTA Hub. The AfCFTA Secretariat, which is located in Accra, Ghana, launched the AfCFTA Hub Digital Platform on 8th July 2022, which happened to be the 3rd Anniversary of the entry into force of the Agreement founding the AfCFTA.
The Hub is a digital platform designed to be used as “a single, trusted directory of the services needed to navigate the AfCFTA for small players, thereby making the AfCFTA the most inclusive Free Trade Area in the world.” The Secretariat described the AfCFTA Hub as “an interconnected clearinghouse or nexus for national government, intergovernmental, private and public digital and partnership platforms to link together in ways that simplify and smooth the way for SMEs and startups to drive the success of the AfCFTA.”
The Hub works with an “AfCFTA Number”, which is a trusted identity and social score for all small and medium enterprises (SMEs), start-ups, and other AfCFTA players.The AfCFTA Number is a unique code that will be assigned to any business model desiring to trade under the AfCFTA. This number is designed to lead to a Trusted Business Directory of economic actors that are compliant with the necessary regulatory criteria for doing business.
The creation of the Hub and the activation of the AfCFTA Number raise key issues of data protection, privacy, and cybersecurity that must be acknowledged and dealt with by the appropriate legal regime.
In conclusion, the launch of the AfCFTA Hub is very exciting news, as there is very high potential for this move to create more job opportunities and facilitate trading under the AfCFTA regime. May the implementation process be smooth and efficient, this could also be a huge drive to easier trading and collaboration between African States.
Our insightful investment guide for Ghana as a destination of choice for investment and doing business can be consulted here
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Author: Yorm Ama Abledu, Senior International Attorney, Centurion Law Group, Ghana.