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CBN Digital Trade Infrastructure Investment Working Group Initiative

African Union Heads of State established The Continental Business Network (CBN) in June 2015, as their exclusive infrastructure and private sector investment advisory platform, to deepen the African investment community’s participation in The Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa (PIDA), The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the overall promotion of Institutional Investor Public Partnerships (IIPP’s).

The COVID-19 global pandemic has rapidly precipitated widespread trade distancing as the new economic normal for African economies, and has highlighted the critical importance of increased investment in Africa’s digital trade (eTrade) infrastructure, to support African Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), to be globally competitive.

African pension and sovereign wealth funds through the Continental Business Network (CBN), are investigating the role which they can play through the use of capital, knowledge and portfolio companies, to Build Africa’s Digital Trade Infrastructure Back Better in a Post COVID-19 Economy.

To achieve this the CBN has established the CBN Digital Trade Infrastructure Investment Working Group initiative.

Digital infrastructure is essential in supporting broad economic development, especially eTrade, eTrade Finance and eCommerce.

The primary aim of The CBN Digital Trade Infrastructure Investment Working Group, is to strengthen Africa’s digital trade infrastructure in a sustainable manner, by mobilizing private capital allocations and finance for investable digital infrastructure and eTrade investment opportunities, and to highlight policy bottlenecks and solutions, to attract long-term private capital to Africa’s digital infrastructure and eTrade investment agenda.

Regions all around the world are accelerating, and investing in, the transition to digital trade and its enabling infrastructure. Due to trade distancing realities, as a result of COVID-19, it is very difficult to operate in face-to-face environments that require physical paper documentation. In the post-COVID-19 world, digitally enabled trade becomes a necessity for Africa’s MSMEs to survive, trade and compete.

The EDHEC Infrastructure Institute’s (EDHECInfra) classification of digital infrastructure, The Infrastructure Company Classification Standard (TICCS), includes categories of data infrastructure, storage and transmission in addition to communication technologies and equipment.

The Working Group will prioritise investment opportunities in digital infrastructure, along with traditional infrastructure, to unlock available sources of infrastructure investment capital and enable exponential growth in eTrade and eCommerce in the AfCFTA.

The primary aim of The CBN Digital Trade Infrastructure Investment Working Group, is to strengthen Africa’s digital trade infrastructure in a sustainable manner, by mobilizing private capital allocations and finance for investable digital infrastructure and eTrade investment opportunities, and to highlight policy bottlenecks and solutions, to attract long-term private capital to Africa’s digital infrastructure and eTrade investment agenda.

Regions all around the world are accelerating, and investing in, the transition to digital trade and its enabling infrastructure. Due to trade distancing realities, as a result of COVID-19, it is very difficult to operate in face-to-face environments that require physical paper documentation. In the post-COVID-19 world, digitally enabled trade becomes a necessity for Africa’s MSMEs to survive, trade and compete.

The Working Group’s activities are designed to compliment the African Union Development Agency’s (AUDA’s) 5% Agenda supportive investment initiatives, championed through the African Infrastructure Investment Guarantee Mechanism (AIGM) and the Co-Guarantee Platform (CGP) housed at the African Development Bank (AfDB)..

Working Group members will comprise of accomplished digital infrastructure, supply chain, ICT, B2B/ B2G, eTrade, legal and trade finance investment professionals and executives.

The Working Group will be coordinated by the CBN Secretariat, with updates and outputs routinely being presented to the CBN Council for review, endorsement and implementation.

The Working Group’s Policy Statement and Roadmap, will be the guiding instrument for the CBN Council’s engagement with public sector stakeholders and leaders on the CBN’s work on Digital Trade Infrastructure and eTrade in the AfCFTA.

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