The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has unveiled a digital trading platform dubbed the AfCFTA Hub in efforts aimed at interconnecting national, regional and private digital applications to boost the ability of African SMEs to expand their scope.
The launch was made during the Boma of Africa hosted to mark this year’s Africa Integration Day.
The commissioning of the hub was done by Niger’s ex-President Mahamadou Issifou on behalf of the AfCFTA Secretariat during AfCFTA’s third anniversary fete convened jointly by the African Union (AU), the AfCFTA Secretariat, AfroChampions and the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
With the launch of the hub, every SME or start-up in the African Union is now entitled to a free AfCFTA Number that will aid them in the export of products across Africa through improved logistics, networking of retail outlets, integration of fintech and brand development support.
The financing of the program, AU says, will be provided through the affiliated AfCFTA Caravan Initiative. Other entities that rendered support include Afreximbank, MTN, Ecobank, the Village Foundation, IC Publications, Dominion Television and APO.
Other corporate supporters are big-league logistics companies such as RwandAir, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Asky.
A hackathon competition awards ceremony was also held on the sidelines of the hub launch. The contest featured Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and startups from Africa organised to showcase brand innovation and creativity.
Among the hackathon winners included Nunya’s Naturals which bagged the Circular Economy Prize, TQay that went home with the Brand Equity Prize as well as Tropical Brands which was awarded the AfCFTA Readiness Prize.
At the Boma, several AU Heads of States and business executives held discussions to examine the key collective strategies that the continent can use to achieve recovery from the Covid-19 crisis as well as manage the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.