NASSAU, The Bahamas- The value of intra-African trade expanded by 2,3% last year to US$189,3 billion on the back of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) despite a weak global demand,  a new report has shown,


Experts say the growth in the value of intra-African trade value will galvanise countries on the continent to trade among themselves, seen as a shock absorber to the challenging global environment which has seen escalating geopolitical tensions and slow growth.


According to the Trade and Economic Outlook Report 2024 released by pan African bank, Afreximbank,  the growth in the value of intra-African trade was from US$185,1 billion in 2022.


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"This performance was driven largely by continued synchronised efforts, including implementation of the AfCFTA by governments, the private sector and regional organisations across the continent," Afreximbank said in a report released on Wednesday.


Southern Africa was the top performer in recording growth in trade with other countries around the African region accounting for 41% of intra-African trade.


While the contribution slowed from 43% in 2022, it dwarfed other regions with West Africa a distant second accounting for 25,6%. The report said the contribution of Central Africa to total intra-African trade was significantly lower than other sub regions.


"The robust recovery of intra-African trade between 2018 and 2023 showed the critical role played by regional champions in fostering cross-border transactions on the continent," Afreximbank said.


At 4,4%, Zimbabwe was among the top 5 contributors to intra-African trade behind  South Africa (20,7%), Cote d'Ivoire (8,4%), Egypt (4,8%) and Nigeria at 4,6%.


The AfCFTA, which came into force in January 2021, is touted as Africa's  Marshall  Plan, in reference to was an American initiative passed in 1948 that provided over US$15 billion to help rebuild western Europe after it was destroyed by   World War II.


The AfCFTA is tipped to lift 100 millions Africans out of poverty and contributes US$450 billion to Africa’s gross domestic product by 2035, according to a report by the World Bank.


It is the world’s largest trading bloc since the creation of the World Trade  Organisation.


The AfCFTA will create a single continental market with a population of about 1,3 billion people and a combined GDP of over  US$ 3,4 trillion.