Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.
United Nations Development AccountUnited Nations Headquarters New York

Development Account Projects

Strengthening capacities of African countries in boosting intra-African trade through support for establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area


The 18th Ordinary Session of Assembly of the African Union (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 23-30 January 2012), recognizing that the promotion of intra-African trade is a fundamental factor for sustainable economic development, employment generation and effective integration of Africa into the global economy, adopted a “Decision on boosting intra-African trade and fast tracking the Continental Free Trade Area” (Assembly/AU/Dec.394(XVIII)). In that decision, African Heads of State and Government endorsed the Framework, Road Map and Architecture for Fast Tracking the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and the Action Plan for Boosting Intra-African Trade.

This is further hinged upon the implementation of the Action Plan for Boosting intra-African Trade (Action Plan) and fast-tracking the establishment of the CFTA, adopted by 7th Ordinary Session of the AU Conference of Ministers (2-3 December 2011, Accra, Ghana).  In this regard, the Summit requested AU Member States, supported by the AU Commission and African Regional Economic Communities (RECs), to drive the process of boosting intra-African trade through the implementation of the short, medium and long-term programmes and activities contained in the Action Plan at the national, regional and continental levels.    

The CFTA is key to the realization of the African continental common market and economic community as envisioned in the Abuja Treaty.  The CFTA's accelerated formation to become operational if possible by 2017, is a key component of African countries' commitment to the acceleration and deepening of Africa’s market integration to stimulate economic growth of the continent and jointly address the continent's multiple and interrelated development challenges - which have been augmented by the impact of global financial and economic crises.  In moving forward in the phased process of realizing the CFTA, African countries will also be making progress towards further promoting the realization of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in terms of enhancing the regional development strategy for boosting trade, alleviating poverty and contributing towards developing further an open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory trading and financial system.


To foster and boost intra-African trade expansion, leading to sustained economic growth and inclusive development through dedicated support to the formation of the CFTA, and thereby facilitating a process of inclusive structural transformation of African countries.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Increased levels of knowledge, technical capacities and skills of policy makers at national level, in RECs and in the AU Commission on key negotiation modalities in trade in goods for the formation of the CFTA and their development impact.

  • Increased levels of knowledge, technical capacities and skills of policy makers at national level, in RECs and in the AU Commission, on key negotiation modalities in trade in services for the formation of the CFTA, and their development impact.

  • Strengthened supply value chains in strategic commodities, including food, which can be stimulated by the formation of the CFTA.

Implementation status:

In progress.