Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
WOMEN in business should take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to identify and penetrate international markets to grow their businesses.
The AfCFTA is a free trade area founded in 2018 and created by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement among 54 of the 55 African Union nations.
The free trade area is the largest in the world in terms of the number of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organisation on January 1, 1995.
Speaking during a meeting with women in production from Matabeleland South Province in Gwanda yesterday, Minister of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development Dr Sithembiso Nyoni said women in business should move away from regional markets such as South Africa and seek international ones.
“We need to utilise platforms such as Comesa’s 50 Million African Women Speak, where out of 14 countries, Zimbabwe is ranked fifth for using this platform.
There is also Dubai Expo 2020, we want women in production to take their products and market them there. Dubai Expo 2020 is going to expose women to the global market,” said Dr Nyoni.
She said her ministry would actively participate in the development of women in production in the province.
“The ministry’s main mandate is to promote women and communities.
You empower a woman, you empower a community. You empower a community you empower a nation,” said Dr Nyoni.
She said her ministry was in the process of forming a converged women’s body to include all women in business at national level.
“We want to form a national women’s body that encompasses everyone.
We can take a leaf from Rwanda whose women’s national body has representation in parliament. As a ministry, we’re tired of seeing vendors being victimised and removed from the streets.
Therefore, we’ll be having a national blitz to have vendors registered under associations so that as an organised body, we can engage relevant authorities to ensure that vendors are given somewhere to operate from,” said Dr Nyoni.
The AfCFTA was brokered by the African Union (AU) and was signed on by 44 of its 55 member states.
The agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs from 90 percent of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa estimates that the agreement will boost intra-African trade by 52 percent by this year.
The general objectives of the agreement are to create a single market, deepening the economic integration of the continent, establish a liberalised market through multiple rounds of negotiations, to aid the movement of capital and people and facilitating investment moves towards the establishment of a future continental customs union.
The AfCFTA is also expected to resolve challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships. – @Yolisswa