The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Trade Centre (ITC), organized a regional capacity building workshop for Master Trainers from Business Associations on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) from 6 – 8 June 2023 in Abuja – Nigeria.
In her remarks, Madame Massandjé Toure-Litse, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, highlighted the need for West African businesses to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the African continental market.
She reiterated the commitment of the ECOWAS Commission to support the Private Sector to unlock investment, boost production and promote business linkages. Finally, she urged network of Trainers to accompany Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), especially women and youth entrepreneurs, to start trading under the AfCFTA.
In his remarks, Mr. Lealem Berhanu Dinku, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, recalled that intra – African trade is driven by MSMEs, which form the majority of Africa’s private sector. As a result, the UNDP promotes MSMEs capacities to produce and trade for the African market through capacity building, market access and policy advisory services.
In his remarks, Mr. Ashish Shah, Director of the Division of Country Programmes at ITC, outlined how ITC’s AfCFTA trainings emphasize the importance of investment, trade, market intelligence, and value chain development. He highlighted the need to mentor MSMEs to robust business cases for potential financing, and the available tools for support such as ITC’s trade and market intelligence tools.
During the 3-day workshop, participants from Business Associations were trained on key elements of export readiness, including export market research, export strategy, as well as operational tools of the AfCFTA. The Masters Trainers were empowered to sensitize businesses on the benefit of the AfCFTA and help them start trading in the continental market.
The workshop was attended by representatives from Business Associations, the ECOWAS Commission, UNDP, ITC and the AfCFTA Secretariat. The ECOWAS – UNDP Capacity Building Programme was launched in April 2021 with the aim to support the Private Sector in the ECOWAS region to benefit market opportunities within the framework of the AfCFTA.