Home Vacancies Digital Trade Expert to support the AfCFTA Secretariat – ATPC/RITD

Digital Trade Expert to support the AfCFTA Secretariat – ATPC/RITD


Duty Station: Addis Ababa

Deadline: Aug 05, 2022

Job Description

Result of Service

Negotiation of AfCFTA’s Agreement Protocol on digital trade is successfully concluded and harmonized with continental policies on digital trade regulation, and implementation is underway.

Work Location

Accra, Ghana

Expected duration

The duration of the contract shall be for a period of 6 months (renewable, subject to successful performance).

Duties and Responsibilities

The African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), through the Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD), is a specialized unit within the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Its mission is to act as the leading Africa-based Centre of excellence and a continental hub for providing and coordinating technical support for the development of trade policies in Africa. ATPC works with stakeholders at all levels to enhance the implementation of sound national, regional and international trade strategies, policies and programs. The Centre also conducts research to generate and disseminate knowledge on trade and provides policy advice, training and capacity building based on the needs identified by its partners.

One of the key focus areas of ATPC’s work is to assist the African Union (AU) and its member States with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement negotiation and implementation processes. Officially starting operation in August 2020 in Accra, Ghana, the AfCFTA Secretariat has been mandated to coordinate implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement, while also ensuring close collaboration with all key stakeholders namely the State Parties, the Secretariats of RECs, the business community and strategic partners. Trading under the AfCFTA Agreement commenced on 1 January 2021 and the AfCFTA Secretariat needs technical assistance to be able to effectively support implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement.

Digital trade involves digitally enabled or digitally ordered cross-border transactions in goods and services which can be either digitally or physically delivered. Countries with better digital connectivity, such as a higher degree of Internet penetration, have a greater degree of trade openness and sell more products to more markets. More digitalization also means more trade.

Digitalization can also help countries to draw greater benefits from their regional trade agreements, including digital trade facilitation tools that reduce the costs of trade along supply chains, and is especially important for MSMEs and women entrepreneurs in developing countries. According to ECA, ESCAP, ECLAC, and OECD research, lower restrictiveness to digital trade is associated with higher access and use of communication networks and increased trade in digitally enabled services. Open digital markets lower trade costs for businesses, increase competitiveness, and lower prices for consumers. Multilateral trade rules and open commitments on services can lock in these benefits and provide certainty to firms seeking to access foreign markets.

The extensive use of ICT and the increase in digitization within Africa has led to strengthening its business potential and will certainly impact the evolution of digital trade. Digitalization, however, raises issues related to security, data integrity, privacy and data protection, and intellectual property rights. While it can reduce gender-related discrimination by removing human interaction, digitalization can also expand gender gaps where there is a gender-digital divide.

Such developments have led AfCFTA State Parties to consider digital trade and e-commerce in the second phase of negotiations of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. At the same time, a Continental Harmonization Plan for Africa is currently being developed by the African Union as part of the Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa adopted at the 2020 African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government that aims to harmonize ICT policy and regulatory frameworks in the digital sector and envisions paving the way forward to creating a digital common market in Africa by 2030. The AfCFTA Secretariat has also progressed on creating a mechanism for learning on digital trade facilitation between sub-regions, taking a corridor approach.

ECA through its African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) has been working on these and similar questions with a view to providing support to the AfCFTA negotiations, including the Protocol on Digital Trade and Ecommerce. This includes a training and research initiative on Regulatory Integration of Digital Trade in Africa, which aims to conduct a readiness assessment for African countries to take advantage of digital trade and ecommerce with a strong focus on regulations and to assist member States on digital trade issues in general and in the AfCFTA context. The initiative provides a solid foundation upon which to build, and it is now important to translate and transfer the evidence generated to inform the protocol through trainings and workshops on digital trade and ecommerce.

In this context, ECA intends to hire a consultant, an expert in digital trade, to be posted at the AfCFTA Secretariat to build the Secretariat’s capacity to better assist AU Member States to negotiate the AfCFTA Protocol on digital trade and ecommerce and its subsequent implementation.

Objective of the Assignment:

The main objective of this assignment is to provide support to the AfCFTA Secretariat in integrating digital trade into AfCFTA negotiations and implementation.

Duties and responsibilities:

The Digital Trade Expert will work under the overall guidance and joint supervision of the ATPC Coordinator and the Director of Trade in Services, Investment, Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Trade (DTIID) at the AfCFTA Secretariat. More specifically, the consultant will work under the direct supervision of the Director of DTIID at the AfCFTA Secretariat, who will send to the ATPC Coordinator monthly performance evaluation reports on the expert. ECA will complete the monthly performance evaluation forms for each expert based on the monthly reports from the AfCFTA Secretariat.

The consultant shall perform the following key tasks:

• Provide support to the negotiation process for the Digital Trade Protocol, including following trade negotiation processes, attending and reporting on negotiation meetings, following up with State Parties, managing relevant documents, and arranging necessary meetings of State Parties and stakeholders.

• Support harmonization of policies and improve coherence between negotiations and agreements in the Digital Transformation Strategy and the AU’s Continental Harmonization Plan currently being articulated, in order to create a regulatory environment towards the creation of a Single Digital Market in Africa

• Draft reports on AfCFTA negotiations supporting interaction with State Parties.

• Support integration of digital trade in AfCFTA issues and address requests from various colleagues on digital trade.

• Produce papers for various audiences, including drafting documents and briefs for a policy audience, and support relevant research.

• Support stakeholder engagement and capacity building activities, including the development of training materials and manuals, providing training to AU member States and AfCFTA negotiators, and conducting training workshops on digital trade regulatory integration

• Support knowledge management and consolidation of information and evidence shared by various partners

• Participate in country missions as required

• Any other related duties as required

Qualifications/special skills

Academic Qualifications: Master’s degree in Economics, International Trade, International Relations, International Law, technology-related disciplines, and/or related areas is required.

Experience: Have a minimum of seven (7) years of professional experience. Experience in writing for a policy audience and engagement with public and private sector stakeholders in trade and digitalization and/or digital regulation in the African context is required. Understanding of Africa’s regional integration agenda and key AfCFTA issues is required. Experience with continental, regional, and/or national policy making on relevant trade and/or digitalization issues is desirable. Knowledge of trade negotiations is an asset. Ability to proactively address challenges is valuable.

Language: English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this post, fluency in English is required; Knowledge of any of the other AU languages is desirable.

No Fee





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