Editorial: Intensify AfCFTA education to rope in more women and youth


There is a lack of detailed information on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) among women and youth in business, a situational analysis conducted by the Aya Institute for Women, Politics and Media, has found.

While information about the protocol has primarily reached technical experts and businesses, women and youth in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector appear to have little or no knowledge about AfCFTA.

It is, therefore, imperative to demystify AfCFTA for every aspiring entrepreneur or young person interested in business, so as to engineer their interest in the continent-wide market. The analysis and research had the backing of the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (GIZ) Ghana through the ‘Programme Support Scheme for the AfCFTA’.

Programmes Coordinator of the institute, Bridget Biney, emphasised that these two demographic groups remain paramount in this context due to the escalating unemployment among youth and the fact that 70 percent of MSMEs in the country are owned by women.

Ms. Biney, therefore, recommended that education about the AfCFTA should be widespread and tailored to be easily understood, with information presented in local languages. The initiative should specifically target areas where SME issues are prevalent.

To ensure that women and youth benefit from the protocol that specifically targets them, the analysis highlighted several key issues that require critical attention. These include, but are not limited to, market reforms, gender equality and addressing social handicaps.

Indeed, we commend GIZ Ghana for partnering with gender organisations, such as the Aya Institute for Women, to conduct research on women and AfCFTA with the aim of improving gender-specific trade outcomes in MSMEs in Ghana.

Such situational reports give a vivid indication of policy and how it is absorbed by the intended target groups and the likely outcomes. We understand GIZ Ghana has been supporting the Aya Institute for Women since 2022 to carry out research in the area of trade and women-led MSMEs in Ghana.

The exercise is very important since AfCFTA is targeted mainly at MSMEs for its success and relevance, and to truly improve intra-African trade which is considered low, compared to other regions of the world.

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