tralac Annual Conference 2021


tralac Annual Conference 2021

tralac Annual Conference 2021

This year’s tralac Annual Conference was, for the second year, a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this year’s conference we considered some lessons from COVID-19. In the first instance, this is a health crisis. A third wave of COVID-19 is currently spreading across Africa, faster and with more devastating effect than the previous two waves. COVID-19 is a global pandemic and Africa is most vulnerable. But COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis. It is a development crisis. Extensive economic and social disruption require structural transformation and new governance solutions. Building differently and diversifying for resilience to future shocks, including the climate crisis, is required.

Taking stock of the AfCFTA has, in recent years, been a standing item on tralac’s Annual Conference agenda. This is again the case. The AfCFTA is not only about boosting intra-Africa trade, but also holds dynamic benefits: larger, integrated markets; improved customs and border management; and improvements in trade governance more generally are perhaps even more important now to, for example, attract investment to support the development and diversification of Africa’s productive capacity and improving competitiveness. COVID-19 makes the successful completion of the negotiations and the effective implementation of the AfCFTA that much more important now.

We also launched a study on ‘Trade and Gender in Africa’s Trade Agreements’. As we prepare to negotiate the AfCFTA Protocol on Women, Youth and SMEs, this study presents a comprehensive review of all gender-related provisions in Africa’s trade agreements, including the legal instruments of the AfCFTA that have been concluded. What are the implications for the AfCFTA Protocol on Women, Youth and SMEs?

pdf Concept Note (236 KB)


Day 1 – 22 July 2021

Opening Session

10:00 – 11:30 (GMT+2)

Update on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

Professor Gerhard Erasmus, tralac Associate

Dr Talkmore Chidede, tralac

Taku Fundira, tralac Associate

Trudi Hartzenberg, tralac


pdf Intra-Africa trade 2020 Update (422 KB)


Session 2

15:00 – 16:30 (GMT+2)

Opening remarks

Mr George Lipimile: Chair of tralac Board

Keynote Speakers

pdf H.E. Ambassador Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining (313 KB)

Ms Treasure Maphanga, Director, AeTrade Group and tralac Board Member

Day 2 – 23 July 2021

Session 1

10:00 – 11:30 (GMT+2)

Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic for Africa’s healthcare sector

Prof Caroline Ncube, SARChI Research Chair in Intellectual Property, Innovation and Development, Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town

Ms Beatrice Chaytor, Senior Expert – Trade in Services, African Union Commission and tralac Associate

Dr Ify Ogo, Regional Integration Expert (AfCFTA) at UNDP and tralac Associate

ModeratorTrudi Hartzenberg, tralac

Session 2

14:00 – 15:30 (GMT+2)

Trade and gender

Launch of tralac study: Trade and gender in Africa’s trade agreements

Ms Lolita Laperle-Forget, WTO Secretariat (previously tralac Volunteer)

Empowering Women in Africa: i) tralac’s SheGovernsTrade Development Programme Participants; ii) Women Traders in the AfCFTA – tralac/International Chamber of Commerce/UPS Partnership


Ms Lerato Ntlopo, Deputy Director – Trade Negotiations, SACU Secretariat

Ms Maggie Tladi, Deputy Director – Trade Facilitation, SACU Secretariat

Conference briefs

pdf How comprehensive will the AfCFTA be? (310 KB)

pdf What will happen when the AfCFTA is implemented? (327 KB)

pdf Investment facilitation and the AfCFTA Protocol on Investment (269 KB)

pdf Financial Flows and the Business Environment in Southern Africa (394 KB)

pdf The Lessons of COVID-19 (266 KB)

pdf Covid accelerates Africa’s medical brain drain (279 KB)