Home Featured OP-ED | Africa’s ‘misfit’ innovators might just save the Free Trade Area, By Charles Onyango-Obbo
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OP-ED | Africa’s ‘misfit’ innovators might just save the Free Trade Area, By Charles Onyango-Obbo

A year after the official start of trading under the much-touted African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), commentators are saying it is already catching the African malaise — it is losing steam, African Business reported a few days ago.



Despite the “fantastic surprise speed” of progress in 2020, “the AfCFTA seems to be losing the momentum it gained amongst African leaders at the very time its importance is recognised elsewhere,” it quoted Carlos Lopes, former executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, as saying.

The less-than-sunny outlook, however, came ahead of a report by Kearney’s Global Retail Development Index (GRDI), which tracks selected emerging retail markets around the world. It noted that while growth in Asia is slowing, “Africa is emerging as the next big retail hotspot”.

If the AfCFTA dream is floundering, it would suggest that the opportunities that could come from a pan-African market for retailers are fewer than if the common market was roaring on.

However, on the day the GRDI was released, I caught sight of a brief report that retail giant Amazon’s Prime Video will be bringing its viewers new releases from one of Africa’s leading movie studios, as the result of a deal it signed earlier in December with Nigerian production company Inkblot.

The report noted that “Amazon is joining a small number of video streamers in Africa, notably US streaming giant Netflix and South Africa’s Showmax, in the fight for eyeballs on the continent”.

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