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Kati Suominen and Michael Poor, Nextrade Group and Alliance for eTrade Development

In February 2020, the 33rd African Union Ordinary Session resolved that the Phase III Negotiations of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) would focus on the AfCFTA Protocol on Ecommerce, today called Digital Protocol. AfCFTA negotiators are amid discussion on the contents of this Protocol. 

The purpose of this policy brief is to contribute to the discussions on the content of the future AfCFTA Digital Protocol. The thinking here is informed by empirical reports on the state of MSME ecommerce in Africa and on the types of ecommerce-related policies and data privacy and transfer regimes African governments have adopted, as well as on an analysis of the ecommerce provisions in free trade agreements and regional integration groupings around the world.

The core components of the paper include:

  • The proposed purposes of the Digital Protocol and measures for its success;

  • Proposed content of the Digital Protocol – in light of the emergence of a common template for digital trade agreements around the world in the last few years and African businesses’ interest in adopting it; and

  • Proposed process for monitoring the implementation of the Digital Protocol.

The author’s views expressed in this document do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Agency for International Development or the United States Government.

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