African input

WTO: It’s time for an African to lead the World Trade Organization

By Zuneid Yousuf

Posted on August 25, 2020 18:04

A logo is pictured in front of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, July 22, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Sub-Saharan Africa is facing its first recession in a quarter of a century.

The scale of the economic impact – as in every region of the global economy – will depend on the policies put in place to keep economies afloat and trade moving across continents.

That’s why the political networking and lobbying that’s taking place in Geneva right now is so important for the future of the African continent’s economy, globalisation and the chances of a rebound in global trade and business activity.

Three African contenders

Of the eight candidates to be the next chief of the World Trade Organisation, three are from Africa. The favourite in the race , Kenya’s Amina Mohamed, is an experienced diplomat who currently serves as the country’s Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture.

READ MORE Amina Mohamed: ‘The WTO needs to be reformed, it’s credibility is at stake’

It is time the voices of Africans are heard at the highest levels of global trade policymaking, and there are several important ways the continent’s perspective can help drive forward a more progressive agenda.


Let’s start with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). As trade experts point out, though the pandemic has stalled progress somewhat, the AfCFTA can contribute to a post-COVID economic recovery by improving economic resilience, and can promote investment, industrialisation, diversification and job creation across Africa.