The Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) recently organized a training program for Nigerian women, aiming to equip them with essential skills for effective engagement in successful trade within Africa.
The event, titled “Capacity Building for West African Businesswomen on Access to Regional and Continental Markets under the Trade Regime,” took place in Lagos and was hosted by the ECOWAS Federation of Businesswomen and Entrepreneurs’ President, Alaba Lawson. In her opening speech, Lawson highlighted the event’s objective to ensure the participation of women from the ECOWAS region in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA), thereby facilitating smoother movement of goods and fostering regional collaboration to overcome challenges.
Raymond Dagana, the Trade and Private Sector Adviser at Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit, emphasized the importance of the Trade Facilitation West Africa Programme in simplifying trade processes and reducing time and cost barriers for seamless regional and global trade.
Wale Cole, President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stressed the significance of the AFCFTA, which brings together 55 African countries to form the world’s largest free trade area. He underscored the necessity for strong commitment among African nations for the agreement’s success, as external countries may oppose it due to the potential reduction of dependency. Cole noted that understanding the complexities of trade agreements, especially the Continental Trade Agreement, is crucial for effective trade.
Cole highlighted the challenges faced by female-led businesses in regional trade and commended the LCCI’s efforts to improve access to markets through information-sharing and workshops. He called for collective commitment to ensure the successful implementation of the AFCFTA, which aims to eliminate trade barriers, create regional value chains, attract investments, and stimulate job creation.
In conclusion, Cole emphasized that the AFCFTA is a mission that Africans must deliver to Africa, enhancing competitiveness, local empowerment, and economic growth across the continent.