United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Botswana has engaged with female entrepreneurs, intending to provide a platform to voice their needs and interests with regards to trade in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The national consultations play a critical role in making the development of the Women in Trade Protocol participatory, inclusive and responsive to the needs and priorities of women.
Through dialogue with women and key stakeholders, consultations aim to identify existing and potential challenges and opportunities that women face as they engage in intra trade.
The ideas and challenges raised will then be compiled into a report, which will be presented at the validation workshop that will follow in the coming weeks and finally be sent to the secretariat in Accra, Ghana. The secretariat will then compile all these ideas across the continent, which will then go towards developing the Women in Trade African Protocol.
Presenting during the consultations, AfCFTA chief negotiator for Botswana Phadza Butale urged local businesses to take advantage of the opportunities that the AfCFTA presents noting that there is a big market that has not been tapped before reaching the saturation point, especially that opportunities are vast in the beginning.
“Now we have a potential market where we can lead an export-led economy for Botswana through the attraction of Foreign Direct Investment and to local investment to creating sustainable and vibrant industries that will be competitive enough in terms of cost of production, pricing, to be able to compete with similar industries throughout the African continent,” he said.
Butale said the agreement has not been fully operationalised hoping to fully operationalise the agreement sometime this year.
In addition, he said they have begun bilateral engagement with Botswana and have engaged with Egypt to try and finalise tariff offers, which will lead to the removal of tariffs for 90% of the goods in the tariff books. Out of the 55 member states only 53 countries have signed except Eretria. AfCFTA covers a total population in access of 1.2 billion and a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion.
On trade and services, over 33 member states have submitted their offers, Botswana being the 34th after submitting the offer to the African Union Commission this week following approval under the national domestic processes.
The consultations were done in collaboration with the Resident Coordinators Office and United Nations Women.