The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) is a game-changer for development aspirations. Currently, Africa accounts for just two per cent of global trade; and only 17 per cent of her exports are intra- continental, compared with 59 per cent in Asia and 68 per cent in Europe.
The pact is designed to create the largest free trade area in the world. It connects 1.3 billion people across 54 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at $3.4 trillion, and boost regional income by seven per cent, and lift 30 million people out of abject poverty by 2035.
AFCFTA is a catalyst for doing business, producing, working and trading within Africa and globally. It further strengthens the commitment of AU to reducing poverty, unlocks innovation, growth and productivity across Africa among the SMEs segment. Cutting red tape, simplifying customs procedures and scaling up digital skills will strengthen SMEs and potential trade boom.
By aggregating demand across Africa, the digital platforms give small and medium businesses access to new markets and offer goods and services previously limited by location constraints and marketing costs.
Digital infrastructure, skills and financial services are crucial elements of the single digital markets for Africa that will enable African companies to compete regionally and globally. Microsoft is committed to supporting digital policy development and implementation, in creating sound digital policies that enables people and businesses to participate in the global digital economy.