Funder: OSISA: The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) is part of the global network of Open Society Foundations (OSF) and operates in eleven (11) southern African countries: Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. OSISA promotes open society values by working towards building vibrant and tolerant democracies across the region through our various thematic and country programmes.
The objective of this project was to build an engagement framework for non-state actors to engage with policymakers at national, regional and continental levels on trade work with a focus on the CFTA. This project was being implemented in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
It was meant to ensure that the CFTA Implementation process improved social and economic benefits for African citizens. This was to be done to strengthen the ability of NSAs to meaningfully participate and influence the CFTA implementation process for better results on the ground. With the support of OSISA, CUTS Lusaka focused its intervention on NSA engagement in the trade policymaking process under the CFTA by engaging in activities geared towards ensuring a meaningful consultation, transparency for comprehensive CFTA negotiations and implementation through an NSA engagement forum. This will be backed by evidence-based research, capacity building/awareness generation and networking among the African NSAs on the CFTA issues.
Some of the activities on this project included;
- Mapping of the NSAs on Trade at the SADC Level
- Project Inception Meeting (SADC Level Meeting)
- Engagement Framework and Action Agenda
- Advocacy Actions/Dissemination
- Publications/ Project Outputs
- Capacity Building Actions/Meetings
The African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) were established to facilitate regional economic integration between members of the individual regions and through the wider African Economic Community (AEC). The African RECs have earned themselves the label of being solely for government-to-government cooperation through the years. This is partly due to a lack of transparency and participation by citizens of member states. In ECOWAS, for example, the annual Heads of State Session has been observed to leave out NSAs and accommodate only heads of state and diplomats, which should not be the case. It has been observed that there is no broad consultation in preparing the agenda. This has led to a wide chasm between the agreed resolutions and their implementation. Even public bureaucrats are sometimes left out in pre-and post-event issues. Similarly, in SADC, NSAs play virtually no role during the negotiation and policymaking stages, and it seems that their roles are recognised only during the implementation and operationalisation phase.1 In COMESA, NSAs have no credible channel to participate in decision-making processes. Similarly, the three negotiation phases of AfCFTA saw little participation from NSAs and the reason could be the reputation built by RECs of being “elitist clubs.”
There has been much to do for NSAs on the negotiations table. It has been particularly immoral that they have been limited in participation, with the areas of intervention by NSAs in the CFTA being as follows:
- Examining the impact and implications of proposals under CFTA negotiations;
- Identifying key issues and affected parties;
- Supporting stakeholders in national discussions through relevant and technical inputs; and
- Ensuring that the CFTA considers equity, human rights and sustainable and inclusive development principles.
- Ensuring negotiations are pro-poor.
The agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) explicitly and implicitly recognises the importance of gender equality. Article 3(e) states that the AfCFTA aims to “promote and attain sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, gender equality and structural transformation”. Similarly, Article 27(d) of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Services explicitly refers to improving the export capacity of formal and informal service suppliers, with particular attention to micro, small and medium-sized operators and “women and youth service suppliers”.
) and operates in 11 southern African countries: Angola, Botswana, DRC, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. OSISA promotes open society values by working towards building vibrant and tolerant democracies across the region through our various thematic and country programmes.
Activity: CUTS International held a full Virtual Conference on the September 15, 2021 themed African Southern African Regional Virtual Conference on Strengthening Integration into the AfCFTA Total registered 268 participants.
This webinar was intended to focus on the regional Integration of Southern African countries. To highlight several structural and institutional weaknesses that had previously affected these regional communities and hampered the opportunities for the already existing membership in the regional economic communities like SADC and COMESA. Hence, it is worth noting that building on the weaknesses faced around competition and investment in the current RECs, including issues relating to the service industry, issues of Intellectual property rights, as well as mining and the various dynamics bordering on extractive transparency initiatives and finally, the future of RECS in the presence of AfCFTA.
CUTS Lusaka sought to hold a Southern African virtual conference to discuss the diverse prospects and challenges that need to be addressed to integrate countries into the AfCFTA successfully.