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What is the Africa Trade Fund?

The Africa Trade Fund (AfTra) is a trade-related, technical assistance facility with the objective to accelerate the integration of RMCs and RECs in regional and global trading systems.

What is its purpose?

It was created in March 2012 by the African Development Bank (AfDB) to assist low income African countries to develop trade-related skills, regulatory regimes and infrastructure so as to enhance trade performance and competitiveness.

Which areas does it support?

The resources are focused on areas where trade facilitation is needed. Priority sectors such as agriculture (especially SPS), soft infrastructure, institutional capacity development, private sector development, as well as science and technology would all benefit, but this list is not mutually exclusive. 

What are the types of activities financed?

  1. Dialogue and consensus building: The organization or participation in national or regional meetings, conferences and workshops.
  2. Knowledge, information building and dissemination: Studies including baseline studies, environmental and gender-related studies and other studies to improve on project quality and viability.
  3. Capacity development (through technical assistance): Human resource development (formal and attachment training); and
  4. Institutional capacity development (including equipment to modernize customs or port clearing facilities, laboratory and testing equipment, computers and other IT equipment).

How are the funds distributed?

The Fund is guided by four pillars. A specific percentage of the resources are dedicated to each pillar:

  1. Improving trade facilitation in regional member countries and regional economic commission will be allocated 40% of AfTra’s resources. This includes projects aiming to remove bottlenecks at borders, reducing wait-times, improving safety and security of trade and traders, streamlining border processes, modernizing customs and upgrading logistics will be given a high priority.
  2. Product and Marketing Development will be allocated 30% of AfTra’s resources. This includes projects aiming to increase product quality, productivity and value addition in agriculture, fishing, manufacturing, textiles, etc.
  3. Strengthening Country and Regional Trade-Related Institutions and Systems will be allocated 15% of AfTra’s resources. This pillar mainly relates to the provision of technical assistance to trade-related institutions in RMCs and RECs to help better implement their respective trade action plans.
  4. Increasing the Bank’s internal knowledge capacity. This pillar will absorb 10% of AfTra’s resources and mainly aims to support the Bank’s capacity to provide sound trade-related technical advice to RMCs and RECs.

Is the funding provided as a grant or a loan?

Financing from AfTra shall be provided in the form of non-reimbursable grants only.

Who is eligible?

Organizations that are eligible to receive funds from AfTra include:

  • Regional Economic Communities, regional institutions and agencies concerned with trade development;
  • Regional Member Countries of the Bank, political subdivisions or agencies (including bodies of the central or local Government) that are concerned with trade development;
  • Private sector organizations such as industry associations, business organizations, growers’ associations, Chambers of Commerce;
  • Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at country or regional level;
  • Civil society and community-based organizations with a track record in trade development, environmental protection and gender advocacy.

How can one apply?

Eligible organizations are invited to apply when the Bank issues a “call for proposals”. Interested organizations should pay specific attention to the specifications in the call for proposals and tailor their application accordingly. The call for proposals shall include an application form and a specific timeframe within which the form must be filled and forwarded to the Bank for review and consideration. 

How long does it take to get approved?

AfTra is set up as a demand-driven, quick access, and quick disbursing Fund. 

How are the funds monitored?

The beneficiary of the grant is required to submit to the Bank regular reports on the financial status and implementation progress of projects financed under AfTra. In addition to this, a final project completion report should be submitted by the beneficiary on completion of the activity/project.