Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) approved a request submitted under the Technical Cooperation Facility (TCF), by Government of Malawi through Ministry of Industry and Trade to implement a Cluster Initiative Project in Malawi. The request was based on the interest by Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry to implement a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Cluster project. The support from COMESA is supported through the framework of Technical Cooperation Facility with Financing from the European Union (EU) to implement a Cluster Project in Malawi. Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry therefore received an approval to implement the project to promote value addition in the cotton and textiles sector in Malawi.

The overall objective of the cluster initiative is to enhance competiveness of micro-small- and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) through sector cluster development in order to promote innovations and competitiveness of the sub sector through establishment of Incubation Centres and facilities for the establishment of the Clusters. This initiative is in line with Government Strategy to develop and promote production and export of value added products as it is being promoted by the National Export Strategy of 2012 being implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

One of the interventions under the project is to establish and operationalize textile and clothing incubation centre. Support under this intervention includes procurement of equipment for incubation and provision of common access to specialized cotton and textiles machinery by small scale players.

Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry is therefore seeking for sealed bids from eligible and qualified bidders for the items indicated in the table below. Equipment will be procured with funding from the Secretariat of COMESA, a regional economic bloc of 19 Member States Malawi inclusive. Bidding will be conducted through the Competitive Bidding procedures as specified in the COMESA procurement manual. The successful bidder will deliver the items to MCCCI. Payments for the delivered items shall be made directly to the supplier by the COMESA Secretariat.

Download tender documents from this site.


One of the interventions under the project is to establish and operationalize textile and clothing incubation centre. Support under this intervention includes procurement of equipment for incubation and provision of common access to specialized cotton and textiles machinery by small scale players.


1. Introduction

In 2012, the 55 member states of the African Union agreed to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as a way of creating a single continent-wide market for goods and services as well as promoting the movement of capital and natural persons. While this trade agreement does not guarantee trade, it does create incentives for countries within the African continent to trade with one another more and hence its importance cannot be overemphasized. Malawi alongside 44 other countries signed the AfCFTA Agreement on 21st March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda and this Agreement was expected to enter in force once 22 out of the 55 member states ratified it.

Over the course of the past year of 2019, several positive strides were made towards attaining the goal of making AfCFTA operational. This report therefore gives an update on the progress made under the AfCFTA between January and December 2019.

1.1 Developments made during the period January to June 2019

During the first half of 2019 negotiation meetings of the AfCFTA Negotiating Forum and Technical Working groups were conducted with the aim to conclude outstanding matters from 2018 and also to ensure that the technical support instruments for the Agreement were finalized ahead of the launch of its operationalization in July 2019, in Niamey, Niger. In this period great progress was made with respect to ratifications of the AfCFTA Agreement leading to attainment of 22 ratifications required for its entry into force.

1.2 Ratification of the Agreement and Official Launch of Negotiations

During the period between July to December 2019, the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly was held on 7th July, 2019 in Niamey, Niger and this served as the official launch of the operational phase of the Agreement. At the summit an update of the AfCFTA process for the first half of 2019 was provided. In this the key issues that were highlighted were the main meetings for negotiation and policy structures that took place and the outstanding progress made with respect to ratifications. By the time of the launch 27 member states had ratified the agreement, well beyond the 22 ratifications required for the agreement to enter into force. It is important to note that as at 31st October, 2019, 2 more countries had deposited their instruments of ratification with the depository making the total to be 29 countries however Malawi was not among the countries that had done so. Malawi is undergoing the process to ratification by obtaining views from various stakeholders the private sector, government, academics, civil society and youth organizations. Some of the issues that are being discussed are: competitiveness of local industries in a much liberalized market, the issue of jobs associated with it and government revenue etc.

In addition several other meetings were held over this period:

  • 2 meetings of the Council of Ministers
  • 1 meeting for the African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT)


2. Significant achievements made in 2019

2.1 Launch & Adoption of instruments

One of the significant achievements made during this period was the launch and adoption of the following instruments at the summit in Niger that will power and enable the AfCFTA to become operational:

  • Agreed Rules of Origin in Appendix IV to Annex 2 on Rules of Origin;
  • Trade in goods password protected online portal
  • The African Union Trade Observatory
  • The Non-Tariff Barriers Monitoring, Reporting and Elimination Mechanism
  • The Pan-African Digital Payments and Settlement Platform.

2.2 AfCFTA Adjustment Facility

Afrexim bank has availed US$ 1 billion line of credit to all African Union Member States to be used to meet adjustment costs related with the implementation of the AfCFTA. In addition, the Bank has availed US$ 2.5 billion for the African private sector who may require funds to scale up operations in the AfCFTA.

Despite the significant progress that was made during this period several key topics still remained under ongoing negotiations and some of which negotiations are still continuing to this day.


3. Topics still under ongoing negotiations

3.1. Annex 1 on Schedules of tariff concessions

As at 31st December, 2019, 11 countries had submitted their tariff offers, but a number of countries and Regional Economic Communities (REC’s) were still working on their tariff offers and were at an advanced stage. A recommendation was made at the 10th meeting of the African Union Ministers of Trade (AMOT) to give countries more time to finalize outstanding work on tariff offers and other issues.

3.2. Rules of Origin

Rules of Origin are legal standards supporting the differential treatment of some products based on their country or region of origin. During the second period of the year not much progress was made in regards to this issue. This was mainly due to inadequate funding availed to AfCFTA secretariat. Efforts were being made to engage relevant structures to secure funding for finalization of this work.

3.3. The G-6 reservation

During initial negotiations at the onset of the AfCFTA Agreement, 7 member states were of the view that the adopted modalities were too ambitious for them and hence sought some preferential treatment. After some time Djibouti consented to administer the modalities as agreed. The remaining countries (G-6) namely Ethiopia, Madagascar, Malawi, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe requested an 85% tariff liberalization line instead of the 90% agreed by the rest. A decision at the 2019 summit in Niger was that this should be looked into further and there was hope that consensus would be achieved in February 2020 at the next assembly of the African Union (AU).

3.4. Trade in Services

The road map for finalization of regulation in trade in services was aligned as per the 2019 summit directives. Later it was agreed at the AMOT meeting that by January 2020 schedules of the commitments for priority sectors were to be finalized and that all other outstanding issues were to be finalized by June 2020.

3.5. Status of Signatures and Ratifications

In regards to signatures Eritrea was the only country out of the 55 members which was yet to sign the agreement and the AU was engaging the government of Eritrea on this. While in regards to ratifications as at 31st October, 2019, only 29 countries had submitted their instruments of ratification.

3.6 Phase II Negotiations

It was anticipated that by the end of the year most phase I negotiation issues would draw to a close and that phase II negotiations would commence shortly after. The African Union Commission was currently working on setting up Technical Working Groups for Phase II negotiations.

3.7 Collaboration with Regional Economic Communities

With regard to this issue the African union Commission Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) was still working on a framework of collaboration between the African Union Commission (AUC), AfCFTA Secretariat and the Regional Economic Communities (REC’s) to facilitate coordination and collaboration between the parties on matters of common interest (trade, investment, infrastructure development and private sector development) and to establish working arrangements. The idea was that once the document was ready it would then be brought before the executive council for endorsement.

3.8 Operationalization of the AfCFTA Secretariat

The Council of Ministers was tasked with the operationalization of the AfCFTA Secretariat. As at December, 2019 several major issues such as drawing up of an organizational structure and budget of the secretariat were yet to be finalized and they still remained work in progress. On the positive side, progress was made on issues such as recruitment of executive posts of the secretariat and a panel was appointed to facilitate the recruitment process. Accra, Ghana was chosen as the home of the secretariat.


4.0 Conclusion and Malawi Private Sector Recommendation

From the issues highlighted above we are able to see that in 2019 though significant progress was made on issues such as adoption of the agreements reached at the summit in Niger as well as steps towards appointment of executive members of the secretariat several important issues still remained far from being agreed. The hope is that most of these issues will have been resolved before the proposed date for the start of trading under AfCFTA which is 1st July, 2020.

Malawi on its part should prepare for its participation at the AfCFTA by ensuring that there is a private sector competitiveness plan to secure Malawi’s offensive commercial interests within the AfCFTA. There are challenges and risks as well as opportunities in the implementation of the AfCFTA and Malawi needs to address some of the supply side constraints such as competitive cost and supply of electricity, access to affordable finance, good access to infrastructure services (For Instance; rail, telecommunications, and good transport network), among others. 

There is also need to understand that countries institute non-tariff measures and non-tariff barriers. These frustrate the integration process and Malawi has already been affected by some countries despite existing preferential treatments on border taxes based on regional and bilateral agreements. There is need for Malawi to tread carefully with such countries because Malawi would be flooded by so many products that could potentially kill the domestic industry instead.


The Virtual Intra-African Trade Fair is an online platform for buyers and sellers to meet, exchange trade and market information and show case their products and capabilities to new markets. The Virtual Trade Fair (VTF) mimics the inaugural Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) that took place in Cairo, Egypt in December 2018, and it continues beyond where the physical trade fair concludes.


Visitor Experience

IATF Virtual provides Visitors unable to attend the event in person, a   dynamic, convenient and cost-efficient way to visit the IATF, network with exhibitors to identify investment and business opportunities and source products. In real time during the event. And for a sustained period after the event.

Registration is free.


Visitor Features:

Participate in the full program of live Speaker simulcasts and watch all missed speaker presentations on demand.

Visit exhibitors at their virtual booths and engage via live text, audio, group and one-on-one chat. Visitors in different time zones can leave a message for exhibitors to contact them.


Use an ‘electronic briefcase’ to collect brochures and other exhibitor collateral and share with colleagues via email


Networking Lounge - Reach out to relevant business contacts, initiate private conversations and join special interest groups

Access country and trade information from the Resource Center

Engage intra-African trade experts, who will share their expertise on various aspects of trade and export/import finance

Receive relevant news, event and opportunity updates

Get dedicated assistance from the Help Desk.

For enquiries: 

Phone:  +(202) 2456 4100    

Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it





The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Government of the Republic of Rwanda, will host the second edition of the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020) in Kigali, Rwanda, from 1 to 7 September 2020 under the theme  "Building Bridges for a Successful AfCFTA".

IATF2020 will provide a unique and valuable platform for businesses to access an integrated African market of over 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of over US$2.5 trillion created under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The successful launch on 7 July 2019 of the operational phase of the AfCFTA has brought into focus the great potential for trade, investment and socio-economic development across Africa.

The inaugural edition of IATF2018 attracted over 2,500 conference delegates and 1,000 exhibitors from 45 countries resulting in over $32 billion worth of trade and investment deals that were closed at the event. The 2nd edition of IATF is expected to be even bigger and aims to attract 5,000 conference delegates and 1,100 exhibitors, including over 1,000 buyers from over 55 countries who will engage to grow trade and investment on the African continent. More than US$40 Billion in trade and investment deals are being targeted at IATF2020.

Among others, the objectives of the Intra-African Trade Fair include: bringing together continental and global players to showcase and exhibit their goods and services, and to explore business and investment opportunities in the continent; providing a platform to share trade, investment and market information with stakeholders and to discuss and identify solutions to the challenges affecting intra-African trade promotion.  The Trade Fair is an important instrument towards achieving our shared goal of expanding intra-African trade, investment and economic integration for the improvement of the quality of lives of our people. 

The IATF2020 Advisory Council, which oversees the event execution and governance, is led by His Excellency Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, as Chairman and includes Mr. Jean-Louis EKRA, former President of Afreximbank, and Amb. Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry. Also represented on the Council are the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa through the African Trade Policy Centre; African Development Bank; Pan-African Chamber of Commerce and Industry; World Trade Centre Miami; AfroChampions Initiative; Islamic Development Bank group through the Islamic Trade Finance Corporation; Export Development Agency of Egypt; the Government of the Republic of Rwanda, as the host country; and Reed Exhibitions as the professional trade fair organiser for the event.

With the above in mind, Afreximbank is pleased to invite you to attend and participate in IATF2020 in Kigali, Rwanda, from 1 to 7 September 2020. More details about IATF 2020, including registration and sponsorship

details, can be found at:

You can also direct any additional inquiries to Chardonnay Marchesi -
+27-11-549 8300 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Yours Sincerely,

IATF2020 Organising Committee


 Malawi’s ease of doing business score has improved from 59.59 in Doing Business 2019 to 60.9 in Doing Business 2020. Malawi’s overall position has improved from 111 to 109, in the Doing Business Index.


World Bank Malawi Country Manager’s position on Doing Business 2020

“Malawi Government is committed to create jobs for young people. Therefore, improving the business environment will be crucial to delivering that commitment. So, it is good news that Malawi has, overall, improved its business regulations and in absolute terms is narrowing the gap with global regulatory best practice,” says Greg Toulmin, Country Manager for Malawi.  “However, there is still much more   Malawi needs to do--and quickly--if this commitment is to be realized in full. We look forward to working with Government to help them deliver it.”


What are the ranking trends?

Mauritius (13) is the highest-ranking Sub-Saharan African economy overall. It is also the only economy from this region in the top 20 cohort.

The second highest ranked economy in the region is Rwanda (38).

Mauritius (13) and Rwanda (38) are the only two Sub-Saharan African economies in the top 50 on the ease of doing business ranking. South Sudan (185), Eritrea (189), and Somalia (190) are the lowest ranked economies in the region.

Other large economies in the region and their rankings are Kenya (56), South Africa (84), Ghana (118), Nigeria (131), and the Democratic Republic of Congo (183)

The region’s economies perform best in the area of   getting credit (113). Conversely, the region underperforms in the areas of getting electricity (146), trading across borders (140) and registering property (129). For example, the cost to obtain a permanent electrical connection in Sub-Saharan Africa is 3 times higher than the global average and 52 times higher than in the OECD high-income group. It takes over 200 hours in Côte d'Ivoire and Cameroon to comply with export border procedures for maritime transport, compared with 13 hours in OECD high-income economies. Ports in Sub-Saharan African are the least efficient of any region.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains one of the weakest-performing regions on the ease of doing business ranking with an average score of 51.8, well below the OECD high-income economy average of 78.4 and the global average of 63. Compared with the previous year, Sub-Saharan African economies   increased their average doing business score by 0.9 points.


She Trades second application phase is NOW OPEN!

The International Trade Centre’s SheTrades initiative aims to connect 3 million women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses to international markets by 2021.

Under the umbrella of the SheTrades Initiative, SheTrades Invest is dedicated to supporting fruitful relationships between investors and women entrepreneurs in developing markets. In doing so, SheTrades Invest addresses the sixth global action of the SheTrades initiative - unlocking financial services for women-owned businesses. 

SheTrades Invest will:  

- Strengthen the financial and managerial capacity of women entrepreneurs, improve their investment readiness, and connect them to impact investors and financiers

- Build a pipeline for investors of women-owned businesses and SMEs that are benefitting women.

Application Process for Women-owned Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and SMEs Benefitting Women

Conditions to apply:
The enterprise must comply with at least one of the three criteria below:  

1. Be at least 51% owned by woman/women;
2. Be at least 20% owned by woman/women, has at least one woman as CEO/COO/President/Vice President; and has at least 30% of the board of directors composed of women, where a board exists; or
3. Be a SME benefitting women.

 - Your company would preferably be operating in one of the following sectors:

 - Agri-Business 
 - Agriculture
 - Artisanal
 - Beauty   & Wellness
 - Culture
 - Education
 - Energy
 - Environment
 - Financial     Services

 - Health

 - Housing Development
 - IT & BPO
 - Manufacturing 
 - Infrastructure and   Facilities Development

 - Sanitation

 - Textile & Apparel

 - Tourism
 - Transport & Logistics

 - Water









Benefits for women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and SMEs benefiting women:
- Access to a range of local, regional and global investors and impact investors

- Access to capacity-building/technical assistance from ITC

- Increased level of competitiveness and a deeper understanding of business practices, trade and investment

APPLY HERE by filling out the survey in your preferred language (*existing applicants should only apply again if their details have changed): 




 Application Process for Investors

Conditions to apply:

- Financial institutions must be looking to invest particularly in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned by women or SMEs benefitting women.

How to apply:

For investors who are interested to join SheTrades Invest and build a pipeline of women entrepreneurs, please send an email to  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it    

Benefits for investors and financial institutions:

- Support  the Sustainable Development Goals through a gender-lens investment approach;

Unlock an untapped trillion dollar market with an attractive risk and return profile; and

Build a pipeline with an investment-ready pool of diverse women–owned businesses from developing and emerging economies.

- SheTrades Invest has developed a comprehensive filtering mechanism that matches eligible women-owned businesses seeking for capital with investors. In addition, SheTrades provides technical assistance to improve the investment readiness of enterprises through online and in-person workshops, trainings, and mentoring.

- Connecting women entrepreneurs with investors will address and contribute to four important Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations (SDG 1: No poverty, SDG 5: Gender Equality, SDG 8: Decent work and Economic Growth and SDG 17: Partnership for the goals) by:

1. Educating women entrepreneurs on business practices and requirements for participation in trade;

2. Driving competitiveness of Women Business Enterprises;

3. Bridging the gap in access to financial services for women entrepreneurs and reducing gender inequality;

4. Connecting women-owned businesses with investors;

5. Investing in women’s economic empowerment and promoting an inclusive economic growth;

6. Unlocking a largely untapped trillion-dollar market with a potentially attractive risk and return profile.



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