Rethinking Africa's Trade Policies

Over the years, Africa’s trade trajectories have been affected by fluctuating commodity booms and busts. The decline in exports to the United States and weak growth in Europe has encouraged trade with emerging markets including Brazil, Russia, India and predominantly, China. However, the shift in the focus of the Chinese economy poses a challenge to growth within the continent as it could reduce demand for African products. Likewise, the development of new trade and investment agreements emphasises the changing rules of engagement in the global economy. In the context of the current climate, the revaluation of African trade policies is key in ensuring sustainable economic development and self-sufficiency.

Developing a self-reliant Africa requires minimal dependence on multinational corporations and foreign direct investment. To achieve this, countries like Madagascar are making attempts to diversify from primary commodities into manufactured value chains .Similarly, exploring intra-regional growth presents an avenue to increase international competitiveness. The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), the proposed Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and other trading blocs could provide active forums for economic integration and reduce overlaps to improve the overall economic efficiency of the continent.

This panel will explore alternative strategies to industry creation; discuss regional trade deals and their potential to develop local economies, engage emerging markets and boost mutually beneficial externalities.


chair: uzo madu

Uzo Madu is the founder of an online communications platform dedicated to EU-Africa current affairs - What’s in it for Africa. She co-produces and presents the online programme and writes about pressing political issues shaping the relationship between these two continents, from trade to agriculture, and investment, and beyond.

She is also a regular contributor to African Business Magazine and, specifically on the potential trade implications for Africa following Brexit. She has been featured as an EU-Africa policy expert on BBC World News, CNBC Africa and ARISE NEWS, as well as in Forbes Afrique, POLITICO Europe, Deutsche Welle, RFI Internationale and Internazionale.

Uzo has over 6 years’ experience in EU Public Affairs and Communications, holds a degree in Law, and is currently following an MA in EU External Relations at KU Leuven University, Belgium.

david luke

David Luke is Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at the UN Economic Commission for Africa in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. He previously taught at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, served as Chief of Trade Section at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Senior Economist at the African Union Geneva Office and UNDP Trade Adviser in Southern Africa and in Geneva. He holds bachelor and masters degrees from the London School of Economics and a doctorate from the London School of Oriental and African Studies. He has written widely on trade and development.

roger nord

Roger Nord is a national of the Netherlands. Currently Deputy Director of the IMF’s African Department, he oversees country operations in East Africa and francophone West Africa. He leads the work on public finance issues in Africa and is responsible for the IMF’s relations with China regarding Africa. Previously, he was IMF mission chief for several African countries, including Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon, and Gabon. Among his recent publications, he was the lead author of Tanzania – The Story of an African Transition (2009). Before joining the African Department, he was advisor to IMF Managing Director Horst Köhler and the IMF’s regional representative in Central Europe. He is a graduate of the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, and of the University of Chicago.

anthe vrijlandt

Anthe is a trade facilitation specialist, who has worked in several African countries including Senegal, Rwanda and Burundi in a career spanning over fifteen years. Anthe currently manages the TradeMark East Africa’s Europe Liaison Unit, a position she took after a three year stint as the Country Director for TradeMark East Africa in Burundi. Anthe has extensively worked on Private Sector Development programmes for several Embassies of the Netherlands; Donor and Aid coordination with the Government of Burundi and Energy programmes for the Government of Rwanda. Anthe has a penchant for the humanities and has degrees in Philosophy and Theology.

gertrude nimako-boateng

Gertrude Nimako-Boateng is a leading international trade lawyer from Ghana and a staff member of the United Nations Office in Geneva for almost 25 years. She holds a Master of Laws Degree in International Commercial and Business Law from the University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom. Since 2003, she has been a member of the United Nations Legal Committee for the International Law Commission, and she is currently a fellow of the Advisory Center on WTO Law (ACWL) in Geneva, Switzerland.

In addition to her regular functions at the United Nations, Gertrude Nimako-Boateng is the Executive Director of the International Trade Institute for West Africa (ITIWA), a not-for-profit organization which she founded in Accra, Ghana to train government officials, legal practitioners, customs officials, business people and students in World Trade Organization (WTO) Law. She has extensive experience in fair trade issues with local communities in Africa, having worked as Senior Communications Adviser for the African Cashew Initiative, a Public Private Partnership funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the German Government and multinational companies. She has published widely in criminal law and international trade law.