The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) must be accompanied by policies supported by Regional Economies to ensure the inclusion of women and youth.
AfCFTA in the Futures Report, “Making the AfCFTA Work for Women and Youth,” said the implementation should also improve the cooperation of Customs to reduce trade costs.
The Report is a narrative about the promise of AfCFTA as told through the voices of Africa’s producers, traders, policy officials and regulators.
Under the Agreement, African Union Member States, now also AfCFTA State parties, explicitly seek to achieve gender equality and enhance the export capacity of women and youth.
The Report said limited property rights for women farmers led to low levels of investment, which limited the full potential of export-led growth.
Similarly, women and youth may be limited from gains in agriculture due to barriers in accessing finance, productive resources and other assets.
That, in addition to foreign direct investment, flows towards high productivity and better-established exporting operations to capture scale economies, may increase the gap.
It said without complementary national policies, the gender wage gap may be used to drive competitiveness in exports and keep women in low-productive activities and sectors that may also be at risk of automation.
The Report, therefore, advocated that the policy objective promoted women as “achievers in, rather than sources of trade competitive advantage.”
It said women should be made to benefit from improvements to the challenges they faced as small-scale, cross-border traders, noting that women accounted for around 70 per cent of informal cross-border traders in Africa.
Mr Emmanuel Leslie Adade, the Co-Founder of Africa Skills Hub, told the Ghana News Agency that as part of their Women’s Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Initiative (WELI) Project, they were training women to attain standardisation for their products.
He said to be able to package products and compete favourably globally, women needed to meet standard requirements and that with the implementation of AfCFTA, women under Small Medium Enterprises needed a capacity building to be able to take advantage of the Agreement.
WELI is a project that seeks to address COVID-19 challenges through a youth-centred and gender-responsive economic empowerment approach.
The Project consists of a three-prolong approach – COVID-19 and SGBV Advocacy, Entrepreneurship Scale Up, and Access to Markets Initiative.