Unlocking African Trade

Grant Details

Organization: Vinson Centre at the University of Buckingham
Country: United Kingdom and the African continent
Project Name: Unlocking African Trade


Funding Areas

System Change ✓
Empowerment of Individuals ✓
Teaching Freedom ✓

Despite recent progress, Africa remains the world’s poorest and most protectionist continent. Protectionism in Africa means more poverty, less choice, and lower quality of life for one billion people across the continent. However, there is now a real prospect for change if the right support is provided, in part thanks to the recent implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implemented on January 1st, 2021.

This historic agreement aims to remove 90% of tariffs on goods traded between member-states within five to ten years. Within thirteen years, it aims to remove 97% of tariffs. The World Bank estimates that, if successful, this Free Trade Area can lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, 68 million from moderate poverty, boost regional income upwards of USD 450 billion, and increase average wages for both skilled and unskilled workers by about 10% by 2035. But if more states do not ratify the AfCFTA, the trade agreement could be a failure.

This three-year project from Initiative for African Trade and Prosperity (IATP) will promote freedom and prosperity by uniting more than a dozen innovative African think tanks with three esteemed UK-based organizations—the Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics at the University of Buckingham, the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), and the Network for a Free Society (NFS)—in the development of a program to promote policy change in the area of trade liberalization. The Vinson Centre will influence public and governmental opinion in favor of the AfCFTA through marketing campaigns, targeted projects, mini-grants to partners in their network, supporting publications in leading media, and distributing educational materials broadly.


Contribution to enhancing freedom

This project has massive potential, as reducing 90+ percent of trade barriers across the continent would mean substantial gains for 1 billion people. Individuals will achieve greater economic freedom, empowerment, and prosperity when they are able to more easily access global networks and benefit from reduced barriers to global exchange. This project has the capacity to change protectionist perceptions so that borders can be opened, and the benefits of greater liberalization can be enjoyed by those living across the region.

In order to change policy, minds and outlooks must be changed first. Hence, the inclusion of a component of this project that teaches individuals the power of free trade and the principles and foundations of free societies. This teaching will be done by distributing mini-libraries of classical liberal texts on CDs, books related to free trade, events (some online with many in-person), and articles across national media outlets. These avenues will in total reach millions of people. The IATP itself will also produce six professionally made videos that can be shared online. Once these videos are shared by partners in their network, it is likely they will at least attract tens of thousands of views. These videos will be intended for both policy leaders and broader audiences across the content that aren’t necessarily located in target countries.

Read more on the Initiative for African Trade & Prosperity at https://theiatp.org/

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