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.

Is African trade underperforming? Is African trade underperforming?
How can we boost trade flows inside and outside the continent to create more jobs and further development? Watch this LSE Research for the World video to find out more.

Programme scope

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

  • Creation of a repository: this will consist of (1) 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; and (2) up-to-date information on current trade negotiations, trade data and related issues with analysis including in relation to the SDGs and the African Union's Agenda 2063 and dissemination through academic outlets, news and social media;
  • Africa Trade Policy Review: five editions over five years will include review and analysis of current developments and trends (first edition focuses on the COVID-19 impact on trade in Africa);
  • Outreach and capacity-building: the programme will provide support to African universities and trade policy research centres at universities where LSE is already active (e.g. Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda) and others such as Liberia, Benin, Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal. Support will be targeted with a minimum of five a year (a) to engage teachers and researchers, and coach and help overcome knowledge gaps (b) advise on teaching materials (c) facilitate further training (d) provide incentives for research, such as an annual prize for innovative research in African trade policy and (e) carry out related activities.
  • Distribution and promotion: insights generated by the programme will engage new and regular media outlets, publications, reports and specific events to share research results, policy recommendations and other insights.


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 Africa's trade policy agreements (coming 2022).



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.



Jonathan Bashi | Research Officer

Jonathan Bashi is a legal scholar whose work and research interests focus on the correlation between international law, trade and development. His work experience spreads across various sectors, with roles assumed in higher education, in the private sector, as well as in international development, including more recently as business associations lead for a UKaid private sector development programme in D.R. Congo, focusing on capacity building of cross-border traders’ associations in Eastern DRC.

Research interests: international law, development, trade
Region of focus: Africa

Twitter: @JonBashi


Kulani McCartan-Demie: Research Consultant

Kulani McCartan-Demie is an experienced researcher who has consulted with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the United Nations Office for South-South cooperation, the African Development Bank Group and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit on agro-industry, industrial park development, south-south trade and the African Continental Free Trade Area. She holds a First Class M.Phil in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge. She will provide research for the Africa Trade Policy Review. 



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.



Geoffroy Guepie: Research Consultant

Geoffroy Guepie is an economist at the African Trade Policy Center of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), where he provides research support for the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. He is also a published Research Associate at the mixed research unit Transitions Energétiques et Environnementales (TREE) and was formerly a lecturer at the University of Pau where he obtained a PhD. He will provide support on data analysis and regional trade for the Africa Trade Policy Review.



Photo: Photo by Tom Fisk from Pexels