Tanzanian businesses eye African free trade benefits
Under the African Continental Free Trade Area, small businesses can access a vast market, especially with e-commerce. Our workshop explains how.
More than 50 small business owners from across East Africa met in Arusha, in the United Republic of Tanzania to learn about how they can take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The workshop paid particular attention to how women and youth can prepare their businesses to access the new common market. Some 54% of small businesses in Tanzania are owned by women.
AfCFTA has a Women and Youth protocol that aims to make sure they benefit from the free trade rules. Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan in May became Africa’s leading advocate for the protocol, when the trade block named her its “Champion of Women and Youth in Trade”.
Her country is at the forefront of regional economic integration, as one of the eight countries in the AfCFTA Guided Trade Initiative. The free trade area officially entered into force in 2019, but the Guided Trade Initiative seeks to jump start operations by linking up eight countries that have already fully approved and published their tariffs under the common market’s rules.
Speaking to the workshop, ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton reaffirmed her commitment to supporting the free trade area, while underlining the leadership role that Tanzania has taken within the bloc.
“Your country has made a commitment to guarantee the necessary operational, institutional, legal, and trade policy environment for the AfCFTA to work,” she said. “It is now in your hands to seize this opportunity, widen your horizons and trade across the continent.”
Free online training to grow African businesses
Much of the workshop explained how to use online tools and trainings that can help small businesses grow.
ITC and Afreximbank offer a free online training called How to Export with the AfCFTA, aimed at both business owners and business support organisations.
To benefit from the free trade agreement, businesses need to comply with rules and certify the origin of their products – to prove that their goods were made in a member country.
The workshop also got a preview of a new digital learning platform, aimed at women and youth, created by the ITC programme One Trade Africa and the East African Business Council.
Government officials and other specialists were also taken through subjects including product standards, trade facilitation, rules of origin, as well as e-commerce.
ITC ran the workshop on 26 and 27 October, in partnership with Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, Lusaka, which does research and advocacy on trade and development issues.
CUTS board member Sajeev Nair highlighted the importance of e-commerce for small businesses in Africa, urging them to offer digital payment solutions so that they can sell to customers across the country and the region.
“The training has equipped us with a lot of knowledge on how we can do business under the AfCFTA,” said Mary Mushi, CEO of Halisi Organic Farm Limited in Tanzania..
About One Trade Africa:
One Trade Africa works to enable, empower and enhance African MSMEs, women and youth entrepreneurs to access new transformative business opportunities created by the AfCFTA. The programme embraces a three-pronged delivery model which supports African MSMEs to compete, connect and change at the enterprise, business ecosystem and policy levels. ITC provides African MSMEs with training, advice and coaching to build capacities, connect to new and more lucrative markets, and create jobs.
The Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) Lusaka is a centre for action (policy) research, advocacy and networking on issues of Consumer Welfare, Economic Governance, Trade and Development, and cross-cutting areas of Gender and Governance, Climate Change and Development.