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    ITC's Programme for Africa


    © International Trade Centre, International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2007

    ITC's vision to develop trade, contained in its Strategy for Africa, rests on boosting intra-African trade flows, promoting networking between trade support institutions, building a positive brand, ensuring that poverty and gender issues are in the mainstream of its activities, and building effective partnerships.

    It works with African institutions and reaches out to new players who influence trade and business development in civil society.

    Boosting intra-African trade flows

    In view of the drive towards heightened regional integration in Africa, ITC plans a regional Executive Forum event to produce a blueprint for future ITC activity in this field. The event will address sub-regional and regional marketing initiatives, trade facilitation and harmonization of rules and standards. There will be an emphasis on the integration of post-conflict and other vulnerable economies into regional markets. ITC's programmes developed for Liberia and Senegal can be seen as models for future comprehensive programming for African countries. Project preparation and implementation will be intensified with the support of funding under the Enhanced Integrated Framework for eligible African countries. Detailed projects will be developed during 2007.

    Networking - Trade support institutions

    Trade support institutions traditionally have been ITC's prime interlocutors in the field. Yet, with few exceptions, networking and cooperation between these institutions has never been a priority. Such networking would reinforce the transfer of knowledge and experience. It would also create synergies for ITC interventions in the field - particularly in areas of common interest such as WTO-related issues, FDI promotion and packaging for export. ITC will develop a comprehensive project plan during 2007.

    Positive branding

    Beyond the day-to-day activities aimed at raising Africa's exports of goods and services, a "Branding Africa" exercise is proposed to address the often negative view of African products and services on world markets. This will seek to clarify the competitive environment, identify the brand essence and develop brand expression. Since some African countries have already overcome negative branding, methodologies can be sought from within as well as outside the continent. A new project line has been added to the Africa pipeline for this specific purpose.

    Coherence on poverty and gender issues

    Although poverty and gender have been central to ITC activities in Africa, these interventions are too often fragmented. As noted at the ITC Executive Forum of 2006 in Berlin, coherence requires a new effort to mainstream these issues into export strategy planning and national development plans, such as Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. ITC will develop a methodology during 2007 to ensure greater integration of some of ITC's current programmes into a coherent, sustainable whole.

    Building partnerships

    A final element in ITC's vision for its future role in Africa is to diversify its political and financial partners on the continent. In concert with ITC these key bodies can help multiply the impact of the Africa trade development effort. Of particular interest are the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and the regional Economic Commissions.

    At the same time, ITC efforts in Africa will evolve within the ambit of existing initiatives. These include the Enhanced Integrated Framework (for trade-related assistance to LDCs) and Aid for Trade, as well as JITAP (the Joint Integrated Technical Assistance Programme of WTO, UNCTAD and ITC), PACT (Programme for Building African Capacity for Trade) and ACCESS, ITC's exclusive programme for women entrepreneurs in trade.

    ITC's ongoing responses

    Integrating Business into Policy

    • ITC works to facilitate the crucial voice of the private sector in multilateral negotiations. It also identifies and helps overcome obstacles in intra-regional trade relationships.
    • It also contributes to the development of national export strategies to help African countries draw up comprehensive frameworks for the promotion of exports.
    Capacity Development of Trade Service Providers

    • The main thrust in Africa is aimed at strengthening and developing the capacity of trade support institutions, including trade promotion organizations and business associations.
    Export Enterprise Competitiveness

    • The focus is mostly on agri-business, which constitutes the majority of African domestic economic activity, but where a lack of processing capacity reduces export value-added. ITC focuses most on sectors with high export potential and most likely to make an impact on poverty alleviation.
    • The emphasis is on upgrading the export readiness of enterprises; facilitating business linkages and generating export transactions.
    For more information

    These extracts are drawn from ITC's Strategy for Africa, which is part of the ITC Programme Document 2007-2009. The Programme Document is organized by region. Along with ITC's Annual Report, it is available in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic on ITC's web site.