Building capacity to help Africa trade better

tralac Annual Conference 2023


tralac Annual Conference 2023

tralac Annual Conference 2023


The 2023 tralac Annual Conference took place on 18-19 May 2023 in Kigali, Rwanda. Government officials, trade experts, entrepreneurs, and tralac alumni from across the continent came together to discuss matters associated with Africa’s integration and trade agenda under the theme of ‘A Practical and Realistic Agenda for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement’. The Conference focused on framing the AfCFTA as a practical continent-wide preferential trade arrangement, aiming to prompt an investigation into a realistic agenda for ensuring the AfCFTA’s effectiveness in driving the continent’s development. Read the Concept note.

pdf Annual Conference Report 2023 (206 KB)

Background notes prepared ahead of the Conference covering key issues under discussion are available to download below.


Official Opening Session

Welcome: Dr George Lipimile, Chair – tralac Board

H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General, AfCFTA Secretariat

Minister of Trade and Industry, Rwanda, Dr Jean Chrysostome Ngabitsinze

Session 1: Keynote Addresses – A Practical and Realistic Agenda for the AfCFTA

Mr Larry Liza, Director, World Customs Organisation, East and Southern African Region Capacity Building Commissioner

Sam Shivute, Namibia Revenue Authority

Session 2: Africa in a changing global context

  • Changing geo-political order

  • Africa’s global trade relations

Chair: Justice Mary Kasango, COMESA Court of Justice


Meeting the Challenges of Emerging Global Realities: Pathways and Opportunities for Africa - Dr Patrick Low, tralac Associate

Africa in a changing global Context - Professor Gerhard Erasmus tralac Associate

Africa and the USA/AGOA - Eckart Naumann, tralac Associate

Session 3: AfCFTA Update 

  • Trading under the AfCFTA: From Guided Trade to a complete Free Trade Area

  • Investment, Competition Policy and Intellectual Property Rights

  • Women and Youth in Trade and Digital Trade

  • A Protocol on Trade and Climate?


Update on the AfCFTA: Towards a workable integration agenda for Africa - Trudi Hartzenberg and Gerhard Erasmus

Update on the Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights - Abrie du Plessis

How can the AfCFTA Promote a trade-related agenda on the Environment? - Gita Briel

Session 4: Africa’s industrialisation through value chain development

  • Global value chain developments: near-shoring, reshoring and friendshoring – implications for Africa’s industrialisation

  • A gendered analysis of Africa’s value chains

  • Trading under preferences to support cross-border value chains – what can the AfCFTA contribute?

  • Mobilising private sector investment in trade-supporting value chains


Value Chains in Africa: Upgrading, the AfCFTA and Trade Advantage - John Stuart, tralac Associate

Unlocking the Potential of Agro-Value Chains under the AfCFTA - Taku Fundira, tralac Associate

Overcoming Constraints to Women’s Participations in Value Chains - Maria Immanuel and Gita Briel

AfCFTA Value Chain Development Initiatives - Cynthia Gnassingbe-Essonam, AfCFTA Secretariat

Session 5: Master Class: Dispute Settlement – Lessons from Cases at the Regional Courts for the AfCFTA

Dispute Settlement: Lessons from Judgments by the REC Courts - Professor Gerhard Erasmus

Session 6: Customs and border management: making the AfCFTA work

  • What have we learnt from the Guided Trade Initiative?

  • Implementing Annexes to the Protocol on Trade in Goods: Customs cooperation and mutual administrative assistance, Transit, Elimination of NTBs, Trade Facilitation

  • Cooperation with the World Customs Organisation and Development Partners


What have we learned from the Guided Trade Initiative of the AfCFTA - Cham Etienne Bama

Making the AfCFTA Annexes work: case of Beitbridge Border Modernization - Rwatida Mafurutu

What we need to do to make the borders work for women - Edina Moyo-Mudzingwa

Customs and Border Management: making the AfCFTA work - Wilfried Deudjui Mbouwe

Session 7: Private Sector Perspectives on the AfCFTA

  • Industrial Development

  • Services

  • Digital Trade

  • Global interest in the AfCFTA


E-Commerce and Digital Trade - Alastair Tempest

Private Sector Perspectives - Michael Lawrence

Africa in the Digital Economy: Update - John Stuart

Supporting African Trade & Development – The Afreximbank Approach - Emeka Uzomba


pdf The African Continental Free Trade Area: a tralac guide, 10th edition (2.15 MB)

pdf AfCFTA: a tralac guide, 10th edition (FR Version) (2.66 MB)

pdf AfCFTA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) (530 KB)

pdf Digital Trade in Africa: a tralac guide (3.54 MB)

pdf Rwanda: Intra-Africa trade & tariff update (2021) (1.34 MB)

pdf Rwanda – AGOA Guide and Trade Overview (2.10 MB)

For more information on the African Continental Free Trade Area, please visit tralac’s AfCFTA Resources page.


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