Dar Es Salaam, 12 September 2022 (ECA) - The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) joined hands with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, the Government of Tanzania and other development partners to support the organization of the maiden AfCFTA Conference on Women and Youth in trade.
The three-day conference, themed “Women and Youth: The Engine of AfCFTA Trade in Africa”, convened under the patronage of H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the Republic of Tanzania and Champion of Women and Youth in Trade under the AfCFTA, opened today at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The large gathering of key influential African Women at the opening session of the Conference demonstrated the growing urgency for the participation of women and youth in trade as the necessary “engine” for AfCFTA to succeed. The leaders called for Africa to put its resources together to fully establish women and youth as powerhouse of Africa’s economy and contributors of solutions that Africa needs to trade more within its borders.
H.E. President Samia Suluhu Hasan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, praising the ongoing momentum of the AfCFTA and expressing her appreciation for ECA and the partners for the organization of this maiden Conference said, “To empower women and youth in trade, we must create equal opportunities for everyone.” The President pledged to support women and youth to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA.
Echoing the same sentiments, H.E. Jessica Rose Epel Alupo, Vice President of the Republic of Uganda emphasized the need for men to participate in boosting women’s engagement in trade so they can move up regional value chains and reap more benefits for themselves and their communities.
However, H.E Jewel Taylor, Vice President of Liberia noted that female-owned businesses tend to be underfunded compared to their male counterparts, sometimes putting them at a disadvantage. “Women should have access to larger amount of finance,” said Vice-President Jewel Taylor.
In her speech, H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia also stated that leadership training becomes concentrated in men and hence must be corrected. “The aim is to have a pool of women groomed to be leaders in many areas, specifically in business modelling,” H.E. President Sahle-Work Zewde uttered.
Dr. Joyce Hilda Banda, Former President of the Republic of Malawi proposed that governments should consider introducing education in business management at primary and secondary schools curriculums to ensure that women choose business early in life.
On her part, H.E. Monique Nsanabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission highlighted that it was time to be deliberate and intentional in our approach to implementation of policies and programmes that enable women and youth to leverage opportunities offered by the AfCFTA and be masters of their own destinies.
This meeting, which will be held for the next three days, gathered over 1,000 participants including government officials from Ministries responsible for trade, gender, and youth in Africa, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), women and youth entrepreneurs, development partners, and policy makers from different African countries.
The Conference is expected to provide a platform for women and youth in trade, policymakers, development partners, financiers, and other key stakeholders on the continent to discuss, in-depth, perspectives on women and youth in trade.
The Africa Trade Policy Center (ATPC) of the Economic Commission for Africa, as of the main partner of the Maiden Conference will highlight the Center’s work on AfCFTA during six key pillars affecting women and youth engagement in trade including Leadership in Trade, Financial Inclusion, Creative Industries, Digital Solutions to Trade, Informal Cross Border Trade and Industrialization and creation of linkages. ECA also supported the participation of women and youth to represent the Center’s work throughout the six pillars.
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