2021 has brought enormous challenges as well as opportunities for Africa’s agricultural trade. The COVID-19 pandemic continued to affect human health and welfare as well as economic activity in Africa and around the globe. 2021 also marked the launch of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which offers great potential to increase the contribution of intra-African trade to income growth and poverty reduction.
As was proposed in last year’s edition, the 2021 Africa Agriculture Trade Monitor (AATM)
looks in depth at the impact of COVID-19 on African agricultural trade and overall economic performance. The report finds that the measures undertaken by African governments to limit the spread of the disease may have contributed to Africa’s relatively low illness and mortality rates, but had significant adverse impacts on African agricultural trade. Movement restrictions and border closures particularly affected small-scale informal trade, which is an important source of income for many households and contributes to regional food security. Concerning policy responses on agricultural trade, international cooperation has been relatively better than during the 2007–2009 food-price crisis. However, trade disruptions during the pandemic underline the need to further coordinate policies across borders to ensure the continued functioning of markets.