The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) offers a major opportunity for African countries to cushion the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and is a vehicle for continued recovery to boost growth, reduce poverty and broaden economic inclusion.
This observation was made during a high-level panel discussion at the 2021 African Economic Conference (AEC), which took place in a hybrid format, with key delegates gathered on the Cabo Verde island of Sal, as well as virtually.
The panel discussion, moderated by Stephen Karingi, Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division of ECA, focused on the implementation of the AfCFTA to support countries in pushing back headwinds of a pandemic-induced recession.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area is a stimulus for Africa’s socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and a driver of sustainable development particularly for women and youth in Africa,” said Joy Kategekwa, Strategic Advisor to the Assistant Administrator and Regional Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
She underlined that the path to more robust and resilient African economies will be a challenging one, calling for boldness, imagination, and tenacious implementation of the AfCFTA on the part of policymakers to address the lack of financing, including among informal businesses and to support promising sectors in order to jumpstart and sustain an economic revival.
Speaking on the issue of inclusive access to development finance under the AfCFTA, Nadira Bayat, Senior Gender and Trade Specialist for UN Women, called for practical economic empowerment interventions specifically for women-led businesses under the AfCFTA post-COVID-19.
“Operationalising an inclusive AfCFTA that encompasses women economic empowerment outcomes requires closing the persistent gender gap in access to finance,” Bayat underlined.
Daily Trust reports.