International Trade Centre (ITC) executive director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, has stressed the need to upscale information dissemination and capacitating African small to medium enterprises (SMEs) through skills development to enable them to reap trade benefits under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
As part of efforts to support budding businesses in the continent, the ITC in collaboration with the Pan-African financier, AfreximBank, this week launched the “How to Export with the AfCFTA” training programme on the side-lines of the on-going Intra-Africa Trade Fair (IATF) in Durban, South Africa.
In her speech, the ITC executive, said the operationalisation of the AfCFTA in January this year, presents huge opportunities for small businesses but more capacity building is needed.
“As a historic agreement, the AfCFTA has the potential to mark a major step forward for the countries of Africa. Since the start of its implementation in January of this year, the business environment has never been more conducive to expanding intra-African trade, and a wealth of exciting opportunities are blooming across the continent,” said Coke-Hamilton.
“However, even with the best environment and incentives in place, intra-African trade will have difficulty growing unless African enterprises, and particularly SMEs, women-owned businesses and young entrepreneurs, have the information to find opportunities arising from the new single market, as well as the skills to seize them.”
Realising the need to bridge the skills and information dissemination gap, she said the ITC has partnered with the AfreximBank to create the “How to Export with the AfCFTA” training programme.
“By providing enterprises with information, knowledge and tools to overcome the challenges of international trade, we are convinced that this Programme will play a crucial role in empowering the African private sector to take full advantage of the AfCFTA and accelerate the growth of intra-African trade,” said Coke-Hamilton.
“To date, the training programme has completed its pilot phase in an initial three countries, namely Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Rwanda. Now, I am happy to say that we are moving forward with Phase 2, in which we will translate the programme’s contents, which are currently available in English and French, into Arabic and Portuguese.”
Apart from translating the programme’s contents and expanding it to the whole of Africa, Coke-Hamilton said plans were underway to establish partnerships with local organizations in other 12 African countries, thus paving the way for the further expansion of the programme’s face-to-face workshops across Africa.
“Through this, we expect at least 100,000 current and prospective African exporters to register and benefit from the programme’s contents over the next few years,” she said.
“We at ITC are committed to supporting the implementation of the AfCFTA through our ‘One Trade Africa Programme’. Together with Afreximbank, we will continue to join forces to empower African enterprises, women and young entrepreneurs to access market opportunities and contribute to Africa’s success.”