The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has organised a one-day workshop for women in entrepreneurship to sensitise them on the opportunity and benefit of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has presented and how to explore them.

The engagement which took place at Alisa Hotel in Accra last week happens to be the last in the series of consultations aimed at capturing the perspective of women traders in the southern sector.

The event brought together women in both formal and informal sectors and policymakers.

In a remark made by UNDP Resident Representative Angela Lusigi, at the event, she indicated that over 70 per cent of cross-border traders, especially in informal trade, are women, and understanding their needs and giving them a platform to speak is incredibly important.

“The AfCFTA promises to open markets in critical sectors in which women are engaged, such as agriculture, manufacturing (clothing and textiles), and services – including an immediate focus on tourism and other business services. In order business services. To ensure that the promise for women yields expected fruits, the unique challenges women must face are brought to the fore and that solutions are found to foster the utilization of opportunities in the Agreement”.

In Ghana, she said the consultations started through individual interviews and focus groups discussions with women entrepreneurs. 

In addition, two consultative meetings have been held in the northern belt in Tamale and the middle belt in Kumasi on the 13th and 16th of July respectively.

According to Angela Lusigi, the meetings have revealed huge existing potentials that can be enhanced for the women to effectively benefit from AfCFTA. 

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She  noted that some challenges related to certification, branding, inadequate machinery for large-scale production, high transaction cost doing business on the continent, and language barrier related trading with Francophone countries were also revealed.

On her part, Roselyn Ng’eno, Senior Investment Expert, AfCFTA Secretariat, charged the women to make use of the AfCFTA platform.

She added that the innovation and skills development of women in entrepreneurship is something that cannot be overemphasised. 

“AfCFTA is currently in 54 African countries with a combine population of 1.3 billion persons, which as an entrepreneur cannot over emphasis because you have a bigger market to focus on. Ghana is lucky to have AfCFTA headquarter which enables the women to seek consultations always,”

This is what some of the women entrepreneurs had to share after the workshop:

Ivy Wereh, the CEO of Cafmeg Enterprise, manufacture of Cafemegnifico said the meeting was helpful and productive, hence charging the organisers to take the education of AfCFTA to the community-based level for everyone to understand.

“A lot of I have come across don’t really understand what AfCFTA so it will be difficult for them to explore the opportunities of AfCFTA. Is only the few who went to school understand and can explore. So if we really want to leave anyone behind in this Agreement then women at the community level must be educated about AfCFTA

Esther Naanbir, CEO of Agape Moringa Processing, lamented the cost of tax imposed on exportation from ghana to other countries, urging the government of Ghana to reduce duties in order to export more.

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She further seized the opportunity to appeal to Ghanaians to accept and purchase made in Ghana goods.

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