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The African Continental Free Trade Agreement: Opportunities and Threats

20 February 2020
13:30 - 15:00

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Presenter: Professor Carlos Lopes, Mandela School of Public Governance, University of Cape Town, Visiting Professor at Sciences Po, Paris and Associate Fellow in the Africa Programme of Chatham House
Date: 20 February 2020
Time: 13h30  – 15:00
Venues in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town (Videoconferencing facilities: see below)

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) officially entered into force on May 30, 2019. Expectations are that this agreement will among others effects support the Boosting Intra-African Trade (BIAT) initiative which seeks to double intra-African trade by 2022. Most critical in this space are the industrialisation implications of the agreement and the related potential to create and grow cross-border value chains mainly targeting the manufacturing industry. This carries notable employment creation potential. In addition, a notable long-term effect of such value chains is a plausible set of learning points to develop both the capacity and capabilities to develop a large and sophisticated range of globally competitive investments in the continent. The African Union’s Agenda as well the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development serve as the backdrop for an ambitious set of goals.
African countries must navigate an intricate path towards structural transformation. They will have to look for opportunities at a time the international scene is not favourable due to headwinds that do not support the industrialisation of latecomers. Professor Carlos Lopes discusses some of these threats and opportunities interrogating their current and future impacts on the AfCFTA initiative.  
Prof Lopes is an Honorary Professor at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance, Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town, a Visiting Professor at Sciences Po, Paris, an Associate Fellow at Chatham House, London and was a 2017 Fellow at Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford.Prof Lopes is associated with several high-level boards, including the Global Commission for Economy and Climate, Global Commission for the Future of Work, Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation, Kofi Annan Foundation. He is a current member of the boards of Jakaya Kikwete Foundation, Hailemariam and Roman Foundation, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, the Global Advisory Board of the African Leadership Institute, Waterloo University International Advisory Board,

Blockchain Charity Foundation, as well as Honorary Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences and Lifetime Member of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences.Prof Lopes has occupied prominent positions such as UN Assistant Secretary-General and Political Director for Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Executive Secretary, Economic Commission for Africa, (2012-2016). He is currently the African Union High Representative for Partnerships with Europe and a member of the African Union Reform Team led by President Paul Kagame.
This seminar is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI.

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