Afreximbank is teaming up with ITC to train small-business owners and young entrepreneurs in Africa to trade with other African countries as part of the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The training programme, How to Export within the AfCFTA, is being launched as the new free-trade area comes on stream and amid the economic strain of climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. The training will give business owners the knowledge and skills they need to engage effectively in cross-border trade under terms of the emerging free-trade area for Africa. Intra-African trade is structurally low at 15% (compared to Europe at nearly 70%, for example), and the AfCFTA will open a market of 1.2 billion people.
“Against the backdrop of the current COVID-19 health and economic crisis, African micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) need support to take full advantage of the continental market,” ITC acting Executive Director Dorothy Tembo said. “Through this partnership, African businesses will have the opportunity to learn, plan and succeed in growing their business by taking full advantage of the AfCFTA.” Kanayo Awani, Managing Director of Afreximbank’s Intra-African Trade Initiative, said that the initiative was necessary because increasing intra-African trade through exports of goods and services by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) was the cornerstone of the AFCFTA. “It signals an optimal strategy to aid businesses and develop regional value chains, which have become more relevant with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.
“Our joint initiative with ITC is a proactive way to support the implementation of the AfCFTA and to provide SMEs with the tools to respond more effectively to the economic and social challenges presented by the global pandemic,” added Ms. Awani.
The training programme, run via ITC’s popular multilingual SME Trade Academy platform, under the auspices of the Afreximbank Academy (AFRACAD), will be piloted in Nigeria, Rwanda, and Côte d’Ivoire and be launched in close collaboration with trade promotion organisations of the three selected pilot countries. Afreximbank and ITC will work toward increasing opportunities for small-business owners to export and supporting countries to achieve their overall trade goals at the regional, continental and global levels.
ITC is also partnering with Afreximbank to support South Sudan in increasing its trade competitiveness, boosting its exports through economic diversification and creating investment opportunities through the development of a trade and investment promotion strategy.
The promotion strategy will identify several priority sectors with a high potential for trade and increasing job opportunities − especially for women and young people. ITC will work with the country’s ministry of trade, investment agencies and private-sector associations to ensure the strategy provides sustainable solutions for the country’s development.