2021 Virtual International Conference: African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) challenges on deepening sustainable integration and transformation of rural-urban communities in Southern and Sub Saharan Africa in a COVID-19 epidemic, Agenda 2030; Africa Agenda 2063 and Fourth Industrial Revolution Phase.

Hosted by: Midlands State University (MSU) Faculty of Arts, Department of Development Studies, “Development Cooperation, Aid and Transformation Project”, in conjunction with University of Zimbabwe, Centre for Applied Social Studies and the Great Zimbabwe University, Faculty of Social Studies, Department of Sociology and Anthropological Studies. 27-29 October 2021. Virtual Venue: MSU Zvishavane Campus.


Conference Concept Note.

 Adoption of the Treaty of Abuja in 1991, by Member States of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) meant agreement on a strategic road map for the creation of a common African market. As such the acceleration and implementation of the Treaty and strengthening of regional integration, prompted the African Union (AU) Trade Ministers to adopt an agreement on establishing an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). Now enmeshed in the COVID-19 pandemic hazards the AfCFTA has since been a flagship program of the AU and AfCFTA negotiations were launched in June 2015. AfCFTA is headquartered in Ghana, Accra. Indeed much depends on level of development of harmonized AfCFTA legal protocols/frameworks on national, regional and continental level. Equally a matching implementation framework on the respect levels is very critical much as the AfCFTA should ultimately transform Africa’s socioeconomic cultural landscape in step with the Global Village for generations to come.   

Out of 55 Member States of the AU, 44 signed the Agreement in March 2018 at the AU Extraordinary Summit in Kigali, Rwanda. Phase I of negotiations covered trade in goods, trade in services and dispute settlement. Phase II is to cover investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights. The AU Commission (AUC), specifically AUC´s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is in charge of coordinating in BIAT and AfCFTA related activities. The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by 2022. Some of the general objectives of the AfCFTA are creation of a single market, and deepening economic integration of the continent; establishment of a liberalized market through multiple rounds of negotiations; aiding the movement of capital and people, facilitating investment; and promoting movement towards the establishment of a future continental customs union; achievement of a sustainable and inclusive socioeconomic development, gender equality and structural transformations within member states; and enhancement of competitiveness of member states within Africa and in the global market. Inherently, the objectives, their theoretical and practical application objectively dictates development connections between the AfCFTA framework and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030, Africa Agenda 2063 and the SADC RISDP 2030, complimented by National Development Frameworks to ensure the essential global, continental, regional and national linkages remain stable on one hand. On the other hand, the AfCFTA objectives on a transformative complementary juncture denote development connectivity with the African Regional Economic Communities namely the East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is envisaged to ensure equally solidly linked platforms typically on the continental and the regional levels. The AfCFTA development and transformative magnetic power is very immense even on national, regional, continental let alone global level as players are drawn in from developed nations, affluent economic blocs, multilateral institutions, international intergovernmental organizations, and international non-governmental organizations. Transformation and sustainable development of the marginalized rural and urban communities in Africa remains the key challenge for the AfCFTA especially in this fourth industrial revolution phase, the digital era even as the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted extensive socioeconomic setbacks. Equally liquidation of the century long socioeconomic, scientific and technological disparities within and between African citizens, member states; and between Africa and the Developed Regions, Affluent Nations  where Africa stands acutely backward at US$ 4950 GNI per capita; far below (three times behind) the world average at US$ 16450GNI per capita and even extremely far away (nearly ten times behind) from the Developed Regions at US$ 46420 GNI per capita, constitutes one of the major issues the AfCFTA has to resolve systematically on a short, medium and long term. The extremity of poverty, underdevelopment and backwardness becomes alarming if you effect country-level comparison, for example comparing an African Member State to a European, Asiatic, Oceanic or Latin America and Caribbean sovereign state. Prioritizing and accentuating the significance of harmonized AfCFTA legal frameworks and implementation phases on national, regional and continental level constitute one of the series of the expected outcomes of this conference. AfCFTA legal and implementable frameworks must be developed by all member states for the AfCFTA to be a meaningful revolutionary and generational vehicle and program. The same frameworks must give in to monitoring and evaluation to determine value gained by nationals on a short, medium and long term. Liquidation of abject poverty in the rural and urban communities, boosting industrialization, reversing deindustrialization trend and modernization in the fourth industrial phase constitutes one of the acute problems to be resolved by the AfCFTA if ever it has to be justified as a vehicle for transformation of Africa, the African and their destiny in step with the world. Equally, deepening of true democracy and elimination of corruption stand as one of the major challenges the domestic and international players in the AfCFTA should confront decisively if ever the African, Africa and their destiny has to dynamically change in a manner consistent with the era of digital technology we dwell in the contemporary. In the light of the above pursued debate, this virtual international platform therefore invites constructive conversations from scholars, researchers, students, governments, public, industry, parliament, international organizations, businesses, legal experts and any other with interest in development and transformation in Africa in particular to submit an abstract and develop a presentable paper on closely related or any of the following topical themes:

  • Harmonizing national, regional, continental Legal framework: AfCFTA
  • AfCFTA legal challenges: national, regional and continental level 
  • Trade inequalities
  • Legal harmonized operating regime/protocols
  • Implementation harmonized regime/protocol
  • Trade in goods, trade in services and dispute settlement;
  • Monitoring and evaluation frameworks: national, regional, continental level
  • Tariff regimes, concessions
  • Investment, competition policy and intellectual property rights.
  • Rural transformation
  • Urban industrialization
  • Rural Industrialization
  • Regional integration, cooperation
  • Employment, labour, gender, migration
  • Manufacturing, industry
  • AfCFTA – Common Currency
  • Rural modernization
  • AfCFTA: Implementation phases
  • Agriculture and Agro processing 
  • Value addition
  • Climate Change, DEI Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity
  • AfCFTA and COVID -19 pandemic
  • Income Economic ranking: low, middle, advanced
  • Value chains; 
  • Marketing,  
  • Eliminating Backwardness, Poverty
  • ICT, Digital Technology
  • Development Inequalities, Wealth Creation
  • Fast tracking development, transformation
  • Free trade area; common market; common monetary zone 
  • Production, distribution, consumption.
  • Equality, cooperation
  • Health, Pharmaceuticals  
  • Mining, value chains
  • Natural Resources , Hydrogen Fuels
  • Infrastructure, transport, energy, education
  • Language, culture, religion, arts and theatre 
  • Corruption Index- Ranking: none, low, middle, high
  • Trade, cooperation, services
  • Dialogue, Peace, security and stability
  • War, conflict, xenophobia, racism and tribalism 
  • E Commerce, legal frameworks
  • Special Economic Zones
  • Post – Colonial cities, Disaster Management
  • Poverty, Exploitation, Wealth Creation 
  • Corruption, Human Rights, Justice, Politics
  • Democracy, Economic and Political Autonomy
  • AfCFTA Bridging Africa and Developed Nations, Regions.

Your session login code –key will be communicated in the Final AfCFTA Conference Program. Conference attendance is Free. You may Donate, Promote; Fund Session/s; Chair Session; Fund Book Publication; or Co – Host with Conference Organizers.  

Paper structure strictly: Please adhere to the following format when developing your paper: Abstract (250 words)…5-6 keywords; Introduction; Methodology; Literature Review; Outcome; Discussion; Conclusion and recommendations; References.  Paper to have a maximum of 5600 words. Font: 1.5 …12” New Roman Times.

Please: Remember Conference Code in all Communication: MSU 2021 AfCFTA – Abstract or Paper: Your Name.

  • Conference dates: 27-29 October 2021
  • Abstract Submission deadline: 28 May 2021
  • Abstract Acceptance Advise deadline: 18 June 2021
  • Complete Conference Paper Submission deadline: 25 August 2021
  • AfCFTA – Conference Program Receipt Date: 25 September 2021.

The anticipated MSU 2021 AfCFTA Conference is a Special Edited Issue Entitled “The AfCFTA: Industrialization driven Rural- Urban Transformation in Southern and Sub Saharan Africa”.

Conference Secretariat: 

Midlands State University. Faculty of Art, Department of Development Studies. [MSU-FA-DDS]. Development Cooperation, Aid and Transformation Project.

Send your abstracts and mail to: [Dr G Chikowore: 263773378014: Conference Coordinator]. [Dr T Chibanda: 0775399416: Conference Administrator]. [Dr Sillah R: 263772855365: Conference Secretary]. [Dr Munemo D: 263773269411: Moderator] 

Session Chairs: 

Prof Viriri; Dr Mashingaidze; Dr Mudeka; Mr C Munhande; Ms Nandi Nkomo; Dr M Sibanda; Prof Mukamuri; Prof Matunhu; Mr Hahlani; Dr Nxiza. 

Remember to make a pretty difference. Be part of this Great Virtual Conference in the History of Re-molding of Africa and the African. God Bless.

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