By Muhammad Usman
The African Electronic Trade (AeTrade) Group is set to host a high-level session on the role of SMEs, youth and women in the implementation of the AfCFTA at the forthcoming 2021 African Integration Forum cum commemoration of African Integration Day, holding physically at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and virtually via Zoom, from July 7 to 9, 2021.
The AeTrade high-level session which will hold July 7 is themed: “Accelerating Africa’s Integration driven by SMEs, Women and Youth as an integral part of AfCFTA Implementation and Africa’s Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery.” It will feature a diverse range of high-level speakers including Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB); H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat as well as H.E Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Industry and Mining at the AU Commission, who will deliver the welcome address.
More key African public and private sector leaders will deliver brief statements on the session’s theme including Honourable Melaku Alebel, Minister of Trade of Ethiopia; Honourable Paula Ingabire, Minister for ICT and Innovation of Rwanda; and Senator Manqoba Khumalo, Minister for Commerce, Industry and Trade of the Kingdom of Eswatini. These will be preceded by brief remarks from the Interim President of the African Business Council (AfBC), Dr. Amany Asfour; the Vice President of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI), Prince Adetokunbo Kayode; as well as the President of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), Mr. Fatam Toure.
Other speakers are Mr. Mulualem Syoum, CEO cum Chairman of AeTrade Group who will deliver a presentation; Mr. Joshua Setipa, Managing Director of the United Nations Technology Bank; Ms Ahunna Eziakonwa, Director of UNDP’s Regional Bureau for Africa; Ms Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC); as well as Professor Sarah Agbor, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology at the AU Commission
The central commitment of AeTrade Group is digitalizing intra-and inter-African trade by encouraging investment in SMEs with a view to creating more jobs for Africa’s growing youth population and generating wealth across the continent. Consequently, the high-level session will serve as a platform for AeTrade to accelerate its advocacy for youth employment and inclusion of SMEs, women and youth in Africa’s economic integration and digital transformation strides.
AeTrade had on the occasion of the maiden commemoration of Africa Integration Day in July 2020 launched the pan African e-commerce platform Sokokuu, as the premier e-commerce platform for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) area. As part of its efforts to encourage investment in SMEs, the Group had last May launched the Global Competition for African Entrepreneurs: Youth, Women, SMEs, and Start-ups. Under this competition, the AeTrade will be supporting 150 African entrepreneurs to participate in the 2nd Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) holding in Durban, South Africa, come November 15 -21, 2021.
AeTrade Group aligns its initiatives with AU policy frameworks such as the AU Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Strategy, which is aimed at unleashing the potential of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Industries (SME/Is) and entrepreneurs to create employment and promote intra-regional and intra- African trade, by integrating African SME/Is into regional and global value chains. Therefore, AU SME strategy’s vision is to develop competitive, diversified and sustainable economies underpinned by dynamic entrepreneurial and industrial sectors that generate employment, reduce poverty and foster social inclusion.
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