Mr. Silver Ojakol, Chief of Staff at the AfCFTA Secretariat has called on women to lead the way for economic independence in Africa. According to him, Women and the youth are the two groups with the potential to drive the transformation of Africa’s economies. As such, he urged governments to involve them in national and continental frameworks. This, according to him, will guarantee and fully harness the benefits of the AfCFTA.
“Women must lead the way for economic independence in Africa. 40% of intra-African trade is dominated by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). These businesses are mostly managed by women and youth and form a significant segment of the export portfolio within Africa.”
He disclosed this at the just-ended capacity-building workshop in Ghana for women traders and producers in the ECOWAS region. The three-day workshop aimed to educate women on market entry and operations under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Women as Africa’s traders
Moreover, the 3-day workshop highlighted the requirements for exports to various African countries and discussed e-commerce as a tool for exploring new markets. It also provided an overview of financing instruments that can be utilized by women-led SMEs as they scale across borders.
Meanwhile, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Dr. Siga Fatima Jagne, said women traders “play critical roles in African economies”. The capacity-building program, according to her, “is intended to highlight opportunities within the AfCFTA for ECOWAS traders, especially women”. Also, she stated that it will “contribute to an understanding of strategies and approaches to enhance value addition for goods and services within the framework of the AfCFTA”.
“Women are Africa’s traders. If you look at any market, and in fact, any border of this continent, the majority of traders will be women. However, women remain at the lower rung of value chains in the agricultural and services sectors. The AfCFTA must account for and address the challenges women face”Ms. Silke Hollander, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Ghana
Prospects of the AfCFTA
Furthermore, the representative of the Minister of Trade and Industry in Ghana, Mrs. Kosi Yankey, urged the participants to “work together and not in silos”. She added that “we want an inclusive strategy for implementation. 80% of businesses are SMEs, and we cannot implement the AfCFTA without focusing on SMEs. That would leave out a whole generation of economic development in any nation”.
Moreover, trading under the preferential terms of the AfCFTA commenced on January 1, 2021. The AfCFTA will create an African market for goods and services covering 1.2 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$3 trillion. Thus, building on the progress towards integration achieved in regional economic communities such as ECOWAS. Moreover, all ECOWAS member states have signed the AfCFTA Agreement, and 12 of 15 member States have deposited instruments of ratification.
Meanwhile, the workshop series is part of a more extensive capacity-building program on the AfCFTA. It commenced with a training of trainers in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 7th-9th April. A third workshop will convene French and Portuguese-speaking traders and trade associations in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on 20th-22th April. The AU Commission, the AfCFTA Secretariat, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the International Trade Centre, Afrexim Bank, and GIZ are the partners of the sessions. .
Moreover, the just-ended workshop in Accra brought together 20 women traders from the 5 English-speaking member states of the ECOWAS region. This comprises Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Gambia. The participants came from the agricultural, agro-processing, textiles, arts and crafts sectors, as well as trade development agencies. Silver Ojakol Silver Ojakol Silver Ojakol
Leave a Reply