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ECOWAS builds private sector capacity to take advantage of AfCFTA

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) said it has strengthened its support towards the private sector to enable it to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

In a statement posted on its website, the ECOWAS Commission said it organised a regional capacity building workshop from June 6 to 8 June in Abuja in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the International Trade Centre (ITC) towards that end.

The workshop was for the Master Trainers from Business Associations on the AfCFTA.

The statement said that Mrs Massandjé Toure-Litse, ECOWAS Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, spoke on the need for West African businesses to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the African continental market.

The statement quoted Toure-Litse as reiterating the commitment of the commission to supporting the private sector in unlocking investment, boosting production, and promoting business linkages.

She further urged a network of Trainers to accompany Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), especially women and youth entrepreneurs, to start trading under the AfCFTA.

Also speaking, according to the statement, Mr Lealem Dinku, the UNDP Deputy Resident Representative recalled that intra–African trade was driven by MSMEs, which formed the majority of Africa’s private sector.

Furthermore, it said, Mr Ashish Shah, Director, Division of Country Programmes, ITC outlined how ITC’s AfCFTA training emphasised the importance of investment, trade, market intelligence, and value chain development.

Based on the statement, Shah spoke on 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 three-day workshop, participants from business associations were trained on key elements of export readiness, including export market research, export strategy, and operational tools of the AfCFTA.

The master trainers were empowered to sensitise 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.

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