African Trade Policy Programme

Hosted by the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa

All African countries have strong potential for adding value to goods, to services, to resources that they produceā€¦and being part of regional and global chains.

Dr David Luke, Professor in Practice and Strategic Director at the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa


Throughout human history, trade has played a key role in generating wealth and growth. This has been achieved through productive processes that leverage comparative (and competitive) advantage for the exchange of goods and services. Economic thought, theory and practice attribute a key role to trade in transforming economies and societies.

Today, trade is recognised as a driver of growth, sustainable development and poverty reduction. But this is not automatic. It requires trade policies that are dynamic, inclusive and responsive to both opportunities and constraints in constantly changing national, regional and global contexts.

The African Trade Policy Programme, hosted by the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, brings together international expertise on African trade policy, trade negotiations and trade policy formulation and implementation, to evaluate and contribute to trade policies that can help African countries to better leverage trade as a vehicle for inclusive development. The Programme team has extensive experience in working with countries, development partners and international organisations across trade policy research, design, innovation and implementation. At its heart is the desire to make trade policy work better for Africa.

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Programme scope

The programme has four main areas of focus, which directly relate to this work: 

  • Analytical work on African trade policy: Providing data-driven evaluations of trade negotiations and policy choices to make sense of the continent’s major trade challenges. These include commodity dependence, competitiveness, and how African countries engage with often unconducive international trade rules that distort global markets. This work involves in-depth analysis of intra-African trade initiatives, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA); trade between African countries and their major trading partners; informal and formal trade patterns; trade and inclusion; and emerging shifts such as digitalisation and the decarbonisation of international trade.
  • Consultancy services: The programme engages in consultancy activities on various aspects of African trade.
  • Outreach and capacity-building: The programme provides support to African universities to (a) engage teachers and researchers and help overcome knowledge gaps (b) advise on teaching materials (c) facilitate further training (d) support research in African trade policy and (e) carry out related activities.  
  • Distribution and promotion: The programme engages media outlets, generates publications, reports and policy recommendations, and organises specific events to share research results.


The objectives of the programme's focus are:

  • To better understand the impact of the African Continental Free Trade Area, including where additional policy interventions and measures can generate results with stronger impacts on livelihoods and different parts of African societies.
  • To significantly extend the current knowledge base on African trade policy for more informed decision-making on trade as a driver of sustainable development at various levels of policy-making.
  • To demystify African trade policy as a specialised esoteric activity confined to a few experts to generate a better and broad-based understanding of how trade impacts the lives of ordinary Africans and the continent’s sustainable development aspirations.
  • To produce easily accessible information on an open access basis on Africa’s trade data, trade agreements and up-to-date information on current trade negotiations with annotated guidance to enhance intelligibility.
  • To empower policy-makers, stakeholders, scholars and others to interrogate the effectiveness of trade agreements, including the implementation dimensions in relation to sustainable development, inclusion and poverty reduction objectives.




  • Repository of African trade agreements: This consist of a searchable e-archive covering 54 African countries with an annotated guide to the four main categories of trade agreements in which the countries are involved: (a) World Trade Organization agreements (b) African regional trade agreements (c) concessional trade agreements and (d) reciprocal trade agreements. (Forthcoming).




Research team

David Luke 200x200

David Luke: Programme Lead

David Luke is Professor in Practice and Strategic Director at the Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa. Specialising in African trade policy and trade negotiations, Professor Luke has decades of experience in policy advisory services, managing and catalysing research, building partnerships, training and capacity development for private sector and government, including as Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Centre at the UN Economic Commission. He has previously worked at the African Union, the UN Development Programme and with a tentured position at Dalhousie University, Halifax.



Jamie MacLeod: Research Assistant

Jamie MacLeod has six years’ experience as a Trade Policy Expert at the Africa Trade Policy Centre at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and he is co-editor of the first book-length publication on the AfCFTA, Inclusive Trade in Africa (Routledge). He has previously consulted on trade policy issues at the World Bank, the European Commission, the Danish International Development Agency and the Ghanaian Ministry of Trade and Industry. He holds an MSc. in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford, where he was a Snell Scholar.



Colette van der Ven: Research Consultant

Colette van der Ven is an international lawyer with expertise in trade and sustainable development. She is Founder and Director of TULIP – a Geneva-based consulting firm focussed on promoting inclusive and green development – and a visiting professor in international economic law at the Graduate Institute. Previously, Colette founded and served as Director for the Trade for Development Initiative and she holds a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School and is a Member of the New York Bar. She will provide research for the Africa Trade Policy Review.



Dr Vinaye Ancharaz: Research Consultant

Vinaye Ancharaz is an independent consultant based in Mauritius. He teaches part-time at the University of Mauritius and at Middlesex University in the UK. He was previously a programme manager at the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), a principal research economist at the African Development Bank.

With over 20 years of experience in international trade and development, he has researched and published extensively in this field and has consulted with several international organizations, including the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the African Export-Import Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Indian Ocean Commission, and various United Nations agencies.  Dr Ancharaz holds a PhD in international economics from Brandeis University (USA), an MBA from Imperial College London, and is a fellow of the Chartered Management Institute of the UK (FCMI).


Professor Olawale Ogunkola

Olawale Ogunkola is Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He is the current the Head of Department and was previously the Dean of the Faculty of the Social Sciences between 2012 and 2014.  He is a Senior Research Fellow at the Ibadan Centre for Econometrics and Allied Research (CEAR) and Director of the University of Ibadan Trade Policy Research and Training Programme (TPRTP). He holds a PhD from the University of Ibadan.  He has published extensively in the area of trade and regional integration with particular focus on Africa. He has consulted widely for various bodies in Nigeria, Africa and internationally. He has served as a resource person to the Regional Trade Policy Course (RTPC) of World Trade Organisation (WTO).


Photo: Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels