Minister urges women, youth to explore AfCFTA opportunities

INVESTMENT, Industry and Trade Minister Dr Ashatu Kijaji has called upon women and youth to explore economic opportunities embedded in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), taking into account that the groups are key drivers in economic development globally.

Dr Kijaji made the call on Wednesday (September 15) in Dar es Salaam when speaking at AfCFTA Conference on Women and Youth in Trade held from 12 – 14 September 2022.

She said that women and Youth are the heart of trade on the continent; hence, their importance to the AfCFTA cannot be overstated.

“For the AfCFTA to be truly successful, businesses in particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in critical sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing (clothing and textiles) and services (especially tourism), informal trading, and professional services in which women and youth are predominantly engaged, must be supported to thrive,” she said.

In order to achieve this objective, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union cemented a commitment to include a Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade in the scope of the AfCFTA Agreement. Therefore, in support of the preparatory phase of developing the Protocol the Conference dubbed: “Women and Youth: The Engine of AfCFTA Trade in Africa”, is being organised.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan, in her capacity as the AfCFTA Champion for Women and Youth in Trade, and the Secretary- General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, Wamkele Mene, hosted the conference.

Dr Kijaji said that women and youth need to be included in order to leverage on the opportunities offered under the agreement.

Wamkele Mene, Secretary-General of the AfCFTA Secretariat also said “The purpose of the conference is to promote the participation of women and youth in trade, as they are the drivers of intra-Africa markets and thus, need to not only be included  in trade, but most importantly, be prioritised to foster opportunities under the agreement.”

“Our convening in Dar is not just to talk, but to take action and to ensure that the entire continent understands that if the AfCFTA does not work for women, SMEs, young entrepreneurs: we will not succeed.”

The conference featured plenary sessions, panel discussions, report launches, Q&A sessions and fireside chats with key personalities including Heads of States, political and business leaders across the continent among others. The sessions will be streamed live for online participants.

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