The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), has called on the government and other relevant partners to work together in creating a supportive and conducive environment for women and youth businesses to thrive.
Mr Clement Osei-Amoako, President of GNCCI said this support should also be targeted particularly under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Mr Osei-Amoako was speaking during the GNCCI Women Conference 2023 on the theme, ‘Making AfCFTA Work Through a Deliberate Inclusion of Women,’ in Accra.
The conference sponsored by the GIZ Trade Hub sought to address the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and engage them in decision making as far as the AfCFTA frameworks were concerned.
The Conference was to educate women-led/women-owned businesses on the protocols and implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and
discuss challenges faced by women in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector within the context of the Agreement.
It is a
lso to explore opportunities presented by AfCFTA for women entrepreneurs, interact with women entrepreneurs to understand their challenges and preparedness for trading under Agreement and present policy recommendations for Ghana’s contribution to Agreement Protocols on Women and Youth.
He said women encountered various challenges such as unequal access to education, production resources, and trade facilities, hence the need for more targeted and effective implementation of policies and programs supporting women-led and youth initiatives under the AfCFTA.
‘Production is not complete until it reaches the final consumer, and the women in businesses are the middlemen who make sure that products from the producers reach the consumers, hence they deserve better,’ Mr Osei-Amoako added.
He said the Chamber, with the support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), had dedicated this year to addressing these specific needs and fostering an environment conducive to the success of women entrepreneurs
and youth within the AfCFTA framework.
The President said earlier this year, the Chamber initiated a hand-holding program, educating women-led businesses on the potential benefits of AfCFTA.
‘The programme addressed various challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, focusing on production constraints, financial difficulties, pricing challenges, and hurdles in dealing with regulatory bodies, among other issues,’ he added.
He said this nationwide initiative included workshops held in Accra, Tema, Wa, Kumasi, Takoradi, Tarkwa, Cape Coast, and Koforidua, where participants were selected based on
specific criteria, with a focus on addressing challenges in key areas such as production capacity, access to raw materials, packaging, machinery, and financial support.
Mr Osei-Amoako said it was imperative to collectively address the challenges faced by cross-border traders and work collaboratively on solutions that the AfCFTA, particularly the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade could offer.
Dr Afua Asabea Asare, C
hief Executive Officer, Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), in a speech read on her behalf by Madam Bernice Amarh Ampofo, Director for Finance, GEPA, said the AfCFTA was a historic agreement representing the promise of a more integrated and prosperous Africa.
She said it was a game changer for the African continent, offering opportunities for economic growth, job creation and improved standards of living.
Dr Asare said women had not always received the recognition, support, and the recognition they deserved, indicating that for AfCFTA to truly work and live up to its potential, women must not be passive participants but active participants of transformation.
She said the AfCFTA therefore, was expected to present an opportunity to change the narrative by creating new trading and entrepreneurial opportunities for women in the formal and informal economies across various sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, and services.
The CEO assured that the Authority would always be available to assist wom
en entrepreneurs to seamlessly transition from a local producer or processor to an ‘export giant’ and called for support to create the required environment for all women.
Mr Divine Kutortse, Programmes Officer, National AfCFTA Coordination Office, said the AfCFTA agreement would be the primary enabler for unlocking Africa’s immense potential if driven by women and youth among the most valuable assets of the continent.
He said priority must be given to investments in women and youth in all facets of the AfCFTA implementation
arrangements to advance Sustainable Development Goals and African Union Agenda 2063.
Mr James Amissah Hammond, Technical Advisor, GIZ Trade Hub, said the GIZ Trade Hub was implementing the GIZ Support Programme to the AfCFTA.
He said 80 per cent of cross border trade within Africa and in Ghana was done by women traders, hence it was vital to factor their situation into the implementation of the AfCFTA.
Source: Ghana News Agency