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AfCFTA : Experts urge Women  to Advantage of Opportunities in the Agreement

AfCFTA : Experts urge Women to Advantage of Opportunities in the Agreement

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Top economic experts in the country led by the President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Dr. Almujtaba Abubakar has called on women to take advantage of the business opportunities in AFCFTA to challenge stereotypes by excelling in their endeavours. 

The ACCI president who was joined by the National President of NACCIMA, Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu, the Founder, Women Enterprise Alliance, Her Excellency Aisha Babangida and others at separate remarks during a webinar organised by ACCI to celebrate the International Women’s Day with the theme, “Women in AFCFTA: How Africa can leverage on women potentials,”.

The experts said women are important and instrumental to ensure the successful implementation of the new trade policy.  

Dr. Abubakar who was represented by the 1st Deputy President of the Chamber, Chief Emeka Obegolu said the world is better off when women get the opportunities that they deserve. 

He also stated that motherhood is not a barrier to a successful career, emphasizing that women in Abuja Chamber of Commerce feature significantly in trade. 

He informed the gathering that over 60% of the ACCI membership base are “companies either owned or led by women, who carry goods across borders, produce products  as well as own and manage other successful businesses”.

He said “And I am sure that the business and professional women on this webinar, have fought against all kinds of stereotypes. But as we have seen in recent times women respond to stereotypes, by forging ahead, showing leadership and excelling in endeavors.  Career and motherhood can go together. It is obvious, but unfortunately it still needs to be said.”

He said ACCI had #ChosentoChallenge the limitations that women face in their businesses as the Chamber acknowledges that Women’s engagement in trade can expand their roles in the economy and decrease disparity with men by giving them more and better employment opportunities. 

He said, “We also understand that siezing these opportunities will be even more important in the post COVID-19 world, the reason why we are proffering solutions for our women entrepreneurs to excel,”. 

He regrettably noted that these women often face specific constraints that undermine their business activities; such as lack of adequate information and capacity building, lack of appropriate business networking opportunities, poor access to finance, difficult access to land, poor access to market and market information and other services that can facilitate their business. 

“At the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, we are supporting our women by providing discounted and free services that will help boost their business. We provide Capacity building in the areas of new business strategies and other business related topics. We have establish a hybrid platform for women to sell their goods through the Arahah (online and monthly physical market), where women can come, sell, buy and be empowered. 

“With the recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement which seeks to create a single market for goods and services, in order to deepen the economic integration on the African Continent, the essence of the Arahah Farmers Market is for us to use it to prepare our women farmers, producers, the MSMEs for the global market. 

“I will like to inform you all that Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry in celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day, is showcasing the businesses of our members who are women entrepreneurs on a daily basis. We will be wrapping the month up by publishing a magazine that will also spotlight their achievements as encouragement to other women entrepreneurs.”

Speaking on behalf its founder, the Executive Director of WenA, the Mr Yemi Bello said that AfCFTA was set up to boost intra-African trade and a mutually beneficial trading area for member states. 

He said the single markets is aimed at moving goods and people to deepen economic integration as well as aiding the movement of capital and people which will facilitate investment.

He explained that some of the benefits of the agreement is for SMEs to tap into the regional export destinationas well as use the regional market to expand to oversees market. 

He further noted that there are several opportunities for women in trade adding that they should take advantage of grants that would be available. 

He also called for the establishment of strong cross boarder network so that trade can be a vehicle for chaneling information across boarders. 

On her part, Hajiya Saratu Iya Aliyu said identifying and proffering solutions to the key challenges to effective women’s participation in AfCFTA is crucial to ensuring an optimal benefits of the agreement in form of industrialisation and creation of regional value chains. 

To fully harness the potentials of women for Africa’s success in implementing the AfCFTA, there is a need for women’s trade associations and business networks such as the NACCIMA Business Women Group (NAWORG), to be strengthened. This goes a long way in ensuring that every African woman in business and career understands her role in the success of this continental agreement. The strengthening of women’s trade associations and networks is a collective responsibility of both the Private and Public Sector in Africa,” she said.

In her closing remarks, Ms Victoria Akai said the chamber continuously support women by providing discounted and free services that will boost their businesses. 

She said the webinar was important to ACCI and the business community because profitable business is not possible without the success of women in the sector.  

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