February 02, 2021 (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): The Nile Youth Development Actions (NYDA), in collaboration with the Model African Union Ethiopia Chapter and Uzalendo Afrika Initiative, co-organized a virtual engagement to echo the role of youth and women in the implementation phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA and most importantly their integral contributions as key stakeholders in Africa’s economic development. An event that brought tougher 300 online participants most notably the AfCFTA Secretary-General, representatives of the African Union Commission, women and youth in business, civil societies, private sectors, and academia.
The event was opened by remarks from Mr. John Youhanes, the Executive Director of the Nile Youth Development Actions (NYDA) who reiterated on the importance of youth inclusion at the implementation of the AfCFTA at all the levels nationally, regionally, and continentally. H.E. Wamkele Mene the AfCFTA Secretary-General, indicated that this agreement is not only benefiting the big multinational cooperations but also looking into how young Africans and women in trade can be part of its implementation and stakeholders across the value chain.
Mr. Hussein Hassan the Acting Director for Department of Trade and Industry of African Union Commission stated that women and youth in trade need to look into opportunities under the Non-tariff barriers where the private sector can directly report trade obstacles on the online portal mechanism. Mr. Hussein further urge the African youth and women in trade to also adapt into e-commerce that leverage the power of information and communications technologies for the benefits of the Africa’s present and future entrepreneurs.
The five panelists deliberated on the continent’s trading perspectives by sharing their experiences on the AfCFTA implementations. Mrs Ngozi Oyewole who is the Managing Director and CEO of Noxie Limited explained that women in manufacturing sectors have an opportunity to thrive under the AfCFTA market particularly on tariff liberalization and borders barriers. Mr. Prudence Sebahizi the Head of CFTA Unit at the African Union Commission, emphasized on the domestication of the AfCFTA for unleashing Africa’s productive capacities and structural economic transformation by involving women and youth in cross border trading.
A young panelist from Kenya Ms. Anne Rose who is the Communications Specialist and Executive Director of Uzalendo Afrika Initiative urged the youth to capitalize on the 4th Industrial revolution particularly on the digitalization and e-commerce skills. Mrs Celestine Ukpere the founder of the Glaxtech E-Learning spoke about the role of women in e-commerce as the COVID19 pandemic forced the world to works virtually and this still a space to be expand to benefits many across the continent. Finally, Dr. Carl Oshodi the Chief Executive Officer of Africa Industrialization Group explained the role of Informal and private sector and SMEs in the AfCFTA to leverage on the infrastructures and manufacturing in the continent. The panel discussion was moderated by Mr Josiah Adiema who is the Managing Partner of Lean Leap Consultations.
The scope of the AfCFTA Agreement covers trade in goods, trade in services, investment, intellectual property rights and competition policy. The AfCFTA is a catalyst for boosting trade between African countries, supporting industrial development, creating business opportunities, generating jobs and helping to alleviate poverty. This series of event continue to bring policymakers, development partners and eminent cross border business leaders to create awareness and build knowledge towards proper implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area.