The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has called for inclusive policies to support women and youth entrepreneurs to accelerate African trade development.
The ECA’s principal regional adviser for Regional Integration and Trade Division, Brendah Phiri-Mundia, during the 14th African Congress for Women Entrepreneurs and the fourth COMESA Federation of Women in Business Forum in Addis Ababa.
According to Ms Phiri-Mundia, women and youth have revolutionised entrepreneurship in Africa and are better positioned to boost trade through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Ms Phiri-Mundia said the congress took stock of progress on tackling challenges in accessing economic opportunities faced by women and youth across the African continent.
She said AfCFTA, which came into force in May 2019, could advance the global and continental goals on gender equality and women empowerment.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of female entrepreneurs globally, with approximately 26 per cent of female adults involved in entrepreneurial activity.
According to the ECA adviser, the full implementation of the free trade area will increase the value of intra-Africa trade to $195 billion by 2045. She said this was compared to the baseline of $113 billion recorded in 2020.
“Women have made an undeniable impact in the entrepreneurial landscape, with research indicating that Africa alone has more entrepreneurs than other regions for both females and males,” Ms Phiri-Mundia explained. “Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of female entrepreneurs globally, with approximately 26 per cent of female adults involved in entrepreneurial activity.
Ms Phiri-Mundia noted that the ECA’s 2021 Women’s Entrepreneurship Report estimates that reducing gender inequality will boost African economies by $316 billion.
Ms Phiri-Mundia also mentioned that Africa’s youth was a potent force for innovation and economic development, with incubators, accelerators, and government initiatives helping young entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality.
She said the ECA recognised the potential of women and the youth in business development, supporting member states across the continent.
Ms Phiri-Mundia said the support was geared towards developing gender-responsive and inclusive policies and context-specific interventions to drive women and youth empowerment within the continental integration agenda. (NAN)