Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, Wamkele Mene has disclosed that plans are far advanced to complete the Protocol on Women in Trade to facilitate greater trade opportunities for women under the trade agreement.
According to him, women play a significant role in trade in Africa and will be essential to the continent’s success in leveraging the full potential of the AfCFTA.
Speaking to Citi Business News, Mr. Wamkele Mene noted that since the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade Area in January this year, the Secretariat is intensifying its efforts in making sure that no one is left out of the continent-wide pact.
“Things we have ratified the agreement, we shall now transit through the borders in accordance with the preferences of the agreement. So the AfCFTA is on track. It is moving and Africa is not turning back. It is completely a game-changer for trade in the African continent. Of course, it is going to take a bit of time before we see the benefits as happens in any free trade agreement. In terms of the women’s trade protocol, the ministers of trade will meet in Accra at the end of January, and they will set out timelines for the protocol on Women in Trade,” he said.
“As you know, it’s very important that we affirm the role of women in trade, and we have to enhance it from a legal standpoint. So that is why that protocol is of critical importance but the ministers of trade will work out the modalities,” he added.
The African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, which commenced on January 1, 2021, consolidates a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. Because of the agreement, Africa’s manufacturing output is expected to double to $1 trillion, creating 14 million jobs by 2025.
Being a game-changer, there is no doubt that the continent-wide pact is pivotal to the economic transformation of Africa. However, a plethora of Non-Tariff Barriers has affected the smooth participation of women in trade, and the potential for inclusive growth.
According to a recent study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 2017, 70 per cent of the informal traders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region are women. In West and Central Africa, informal cross-border trade among women represents more than 60% and generates about 40 to 60% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the countries concerned.