Adnan Adams Mohammed
African countries are skeptical about free trade implementation through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and other mechanisms a new report has indicated.
The newest Afrobarometer report has shown that Africans share diverse opinions on the conversation of free trade across the continent.
This survey was occasioned by the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The AfCFTA, founded in 2018 with its headquarters in Ghana is aimed, among others, to create a single market for goods and services, facilitated by the movement of people and expanding intra-African trade.
According to the report, out of the 18 countries sampled, “47 per cent support policies that protect domestic industries, while 49 per cent prefer open borders”.
But a majority (58%) want their governments to allow foreign-owned retail shops in order to ensure a wide selection of low-cost consumer goods.
A slim majority (55%) of Africans also support the free movement of people and goods across international borders in their region.
Botswana is the only country where a clear majority (68%) prefer limiting cross-border movement in the region.
The report said across countries, levels of support for free cross-border movement have changed considerably over time, including a 27-percentage-point increase in Lesotho and a 25-point drop in Sierra Leone since 2014/2015.
The Afrobarometer report also captured that, on average, West and East Africans favour trade openness more than Southern Africans.
The pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides data on Africans’ experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance and quality of life stated the methodology of the survey saying “seven rounds of surveys were completed in up to 38 countries between 1999 and 2018. Round 8 surveys were completed in 18 countries between August 2019 and March 2020 before fieldwork was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Round 8 surveys started up again in October 2020 and are expected to cover a total of at least 35 countries. Afrobarometer conducts face-to-face interviews in the language of the respondent’s choice with nationally representative samples that yield country-level results with margins of error of +/-2 to +/-3 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.
“This 18-country analysis is based on 26,777 interviews. The data are weighted to ensure nationally representative samples. When reporting multi-country averages, each country is weighted equally (rather than in proportion to population size),” the 2021 Afrobarometer report stated.