The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is developing a protocol for women and youth in trade to place them at the centre of its activities, Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General, AfCFTA has announced.
The move, according to him, was to ensure that women and youth had access to and derive the intended benefits from the continental trade arrangements.
Speaking at a plenary session on the topic: Making the AfCFTA work for Africa we want at the ongoing Afreximbank annual general meetings in Cairo, Egypt, Mr Mene said “We intend to foster a favourable environment for young Africans to competitively engage in cross-border trade in goods and services, in the context of the AfCFTA,”
The meetings kicked off on Wednesday with more than 3,000 high-profile international bankers and officials taking part.
Themed “Realising the AfCFTA Potential in the post-COVID-19 Era—Leveraging the power of the youth”, the Afreximbank annual meetings includes Advisory Group Meetings and the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders, complemented by seminars and plenaries.
The meetings are being attended by businesses, bankers and political leaders and have been ranked among the most important gatherings of economic decision-makers in Africa.
Organised by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the annual meetings will be attended by governors of central banks and heads of government in Africa, as well as representatives of regional and international organizations, atop of which the UN, the African Union (AU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The four-day event also includes two exhibitions about presidential programmes and initiatives to support the development of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the framework of the African Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
To achieve this, he said, at the continental level, AfCFTA was committed to broadening inclusiveness in its implementation through interventions that support young Africans, women, and small and medium enterprises, as well as integrating informal cross-border traders into the formal economy by implementing the simplified trade regime.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic and the Ukraine crises had exposed Africa’s over-reliance on the export of primary commodities, which had kept it in a colonial economic model.
He also stated that the reliance on Europe as a primary export market had made the African continent have a narrow export market base.
“The result is what we are witnessing, a 53 per cent reduction in exports to Europe in the year 2020-2021, and a 27 per cent increase in the cost of wheat and other cereals,” he said.
Mr Mene said “With the AfCFTA, we have an opportunity to change the narrative and harness the potential of the youthful population to achieve Africa’s sustainable development. It is time to implement policy and institutional actions that will remove the encumbrances and unlock opportunities for Africa’s youth.”