Since its official launch in 2008, PACT II has been recognized as ITC's flagship programme on regional integration, trade development and export promotion in Africa. The programme is part of the overall response to the African regional integration challenges and is aligned to the New Partnership for African's Development (NEPAD)'s broad vision of economic growth led by the private sector and rooted in greater regional and inter-regional trade.
Regional integration is critical for Africa’s economic development and growth, and hence poverty reduction. It provides access to bigger markets, stimulates competition and specialisation, and strengthens production systems. It also enables countries to exploit the economies of scale necessary to build competitive industries, increase productivity and innovation, and attract a greater share of international markets and investment.
With the goal to facilitate regional integration, PACT II strategy was to identify sectors with high potential for increasing intra-regional trade, determined gap and address them through focused institutional development for providing region wide services. The programme also entailed support for strengthening the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) level of public-private dialogue.
PACT II main achievements include targeted capacity-building services for regional and national partner institutions with a view to enhancing the export competitiveness, strengthen market linkages and facilitate export revenues of African SMEs in high-potential sectors.
Three of Africa’s Regional Economic Communities - the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) – forged strategic partnerships with the International Trade Centre under the Programme for building African Capacity for Trade (PACT II) to support Africa’s regional integration agenda and efforts. Funded by the Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (formally known as the Canadian International Development Agency, CIDA), PACT II seeks to strengthen the support capacity of African regional and national institutions to enhance export competitiveness, market linkages and export revenues of African small and medium-size enterprises.
Along with trade policy and trade negotiation efforts, Africa’s regional integration agenda requires private and public service providers to guide and support businesses. PACT II reinforces the trade development and promotion structures of African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to analyse markets, formulate strategies, based on Result-Based Programme Management principles. It is based on a coached learning-by-doing process and linked to a roadmap setting priorities for trade development and promotion within regions.
To help Trade Support Institutions (TSIs) provide effective, relevant services to exporters, PACT II reinforces coordination among TSIs, such as business and sectorial associations, national trade promotion bodies and chambers of commerce so they serves as an effective link between RECs and the private sector to improve exports. This is done by strengthening their service delivery, including business advocacy to champion enterprises’ interests, and trade-information systems to improve knowledge about markets and business linkages.
This also includes building and reinforcing pools of skilled and certified African experts who are then capable of providing advisory services, through training, coaching and e-learning in trade information and law, market analysis, export strategy, business generation, advocacy and development services for women entrepreneurs.
To shore up African firms’ ability to compete globally and regionally, it is necessary to develop export competencies at enterprise level, encourage cross-border value chains, reduce internal barriers and facilitate export linkages. PACT II supports the private sector to voice its interest in policy dialogue, foster a better understanding of export markets, strengthen regional supply chains, underpin efforts to improve the quality of goods and promote strategic business linkages within regional and overseas markets. Increased SME competitiveness means more jobs and incomes, which diversifies exports and contributes to economic growth.
It is widely recognized that women entrepreneurs across Africa are generating employment and adding value to exports in innovative ways. Since 2007, the ACCESS! Export Training Programme of ITC has been dedicated to addressing these limitations by strengthening the competitiveness of more than 2’500 women exporters and building the capacity of Trade Support Institutions (TSI) such as Trade Ministries, Chambers of Commerce and Women’s Business Associations to support them.
Visit the website of ACCESS! for African Businesswomen for International Trade