AfCFTA Protocols on Women and Youth get major boost


By Ernest Bako WUBONTO

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) protocols on ‘Women in Trade’, ‘Youth in Trade’ and ‘Digital Integration’ have received a major boost, further cementing commitment to promoting inclusive economic growth across the continent.

The AfCFTA Secretariat and AfCFTA Policy Network (APN Group) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to drive specific investments targetted at promoting participation and growth for these two protocols.

These protocols aim to ensure that women and young people can fully participate in and benefit from opportunities presented by the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA Protocol on ‘Women in Trade’ has been finalised to establish a framework that addresses the unique challenges faced by women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, and promote their participation in intra-African trade, while the ‘Youth in Trade’ protocol is to ensure the unique needs and aspirations of African youth are well-represented.

Both protocols are accompanied by comprehensive implementation strategies and action plans to ensure tangible results on the ground.

Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony in Accra, Executive Director-APN Group, Louis Yaw Afful, highlighted that the MoU represents a significant step toward harnessing the collective capabilities and resources of both organisations to enhance implementation of the AfCFTA.

He added that the partnership underlines the critical role of collaborative efforts in implementing large-scale trade frameworks.

“By combining our strengths, we aim to effectively address the capacity challenges and funding limitations that currently hinder intra-African trade. A major focus of our joint efforts will be on building the capacity of key stakeholders across Africa. This includes developing comprehensive training programmes and driving investments and strategic initiatives to support small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs), which are vital for the continent’s economic transformation,” he said.

The APN Group Director further mentioned that the MoU’s objectives objectives are designed to be sustainable and impactful over the long-term, contributing to Agenda 2063 goals of a prosperous, integrated and united Africa driven by its own citizens.

Secretary-General, AfCFTA, Wamkele Keabetswe Mene, underscored the significant progress made in development and implementation of the AfCFTA Protocol on Women in Trade and AfCFTA Protocol on Youth in Trade.

“The AfCFTA is not just about trade liberalisation, it is also about creating an inclusive economic ecosystem that empowers women and youth to be active drivers of Africa’s development. The progress made on these protocols demonstrates our unwavering commitment to building a more equitable and prosperous Africa,” he said.

He added that the Secretariat is committed to extensive advocacy and sensitisation campaigns to educate both private and public sectors about the opportunities that AfCFTA provides, emphasising that raising awareness is crucial to ensuring widespread adoption and support across the continent.

The AfCFTA Secretariat earlier announced plans to establish an AfCFTA Fund for Women and Youth that will provide targetted financing, capacity-building and technical assistance to support effective implementation of these protocols.

The AfCFTA is a landmark trade agreement that aims to create a single market for goods and services across the African continent. It was launched in 2018 and has the potential to become the world’s largest free trade area, with a combined GDP of over US$3trillion and a population of 1.3 billion people.

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