What you need to know:
- Beginning January 1, 2020, a total of 35 countries inclusive Kenya began to trade under African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which eliminates or lowers tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
- Gender disparities have led to less women participating effectively in manufacturing and trade sectors.
- Ms Wakiaga says these are the areas that need to be addressed through AfCTA.
There is now hope of Kenyan female entrepreneurs gaining more traction in the African continent’s trade sector as the African Union’s flagship project of a free trade zone takes effect.
Beginning January 1, 2020, a total of 35 countries inclusive Kenya began to trade under African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which eliminates or lowers tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
Kenya, unlike Ghana, Egypt and South Africa, is yet to establish a customs module corresponding to the pact. It is, however, expected to establish modalities in the meanwhile to protect the exporters from bearing the cost of the defunct cross-border procedures and taxes.
AfCFTA Secretariat Secretary General Mr Wamkele Keabetswe Mene said the modalities would, for instance, ensure exporters are credited for the reduced tariff recognised under the harmonised standards.
“Countries that are not ready should establish modalities for giving credit to traders who have started to trade under the agreement,” he said during a virtual press briefing on the status of AfCFTA on January 1, 2020.
Meanwhile, Kenya Association of Manufacturers(KAM), Chief Executive Officer, Ms Phyllis Wakiaga promised to ensure “issues around gender and inclusion are included” in the agreement.
“Gender disparities have led to less women participating effectively in manufacturing and trade sectors. These are the areas we want to have addressed through AfCTA,” she said on January 26, during a webinar on the status of implementation of AfCFTA.
KAM chair, Mr Mucai Kunyiha said while the agreement opens opportunities for increased intra-Africa trade, it would require traders’ innovativeness to compete with other global exporters.
He called on the government and relevant agencies to avail information to all stakeholders to enable them make investment decisions.
“It is critical that government and relevant agencies sensitise customs officials on the agreement’s tariffs and procedures, (and) harmonise standards to enable trade across the continent,” he said during the webinar.
In an August 20, webinar on Promoting African Trade Partnership: Nigeria – Kenya Agribusiness Export, Commonwealth Business Women Network-Kenya, chairperson Ms Nana Wanjau, noted that for women entrepreneurs to reap the fruits of AfCTA, their challenges in access to finance have to be addressed.