Press releases

Youth, trade, jobs: Special AU-ITC session at World Export Development Forum to #ScaleUp trade

29 June 2018
ITC News

The International Trade Centre and the African Union join forces for a Youth ‘UnConference’ at the World Export Development Forum. With the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement earlier this year, WEDF offers young Africans a platform to share their aspirations about the future of trade.

Young professionals and entrepreneurs will take center stage for a Youth ‘UnConference’ at the International Trade Centre’s (ITC) World Export Development Forum (WEDF), hosted by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Zambia in Lusaka from 11-12 September.

This innovative event, designed in partnership with the African Union (AU), will broaden the conversation on youth and trade. It will feature both a high-level plenary and a social entrepreneurship competition to promote youth leadership in trade.

The UnConference gives youth a voice in this forum,’ said Arancha González, ITC Executive Director. ‘Youth are the future and are key to create inclusive and sustainable trade and help us achieve the 2030 Agenda.’

‘Given their energy and talents attuned to the modern era, Africa’s youth are drivers of the continent’s transformation, growth and prosperity,’ said Albert Muchanga, African Union Commissioner for Trade and Industry. ‘The African Continental Area is a strong platform to accelerate the involvement of our youth in trade and investment to achieve the objectives of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.’

Giving youth a voice: the UnConference

The UnConference will feature a unique two-part format on Tuesday, 11 September.
The morning session, Imagine a World With No Borders, will focus on youth and young entrepreneurs as they share their vision on how they can contribute to ‘Scale up Trade’ in a world with no borders.

Among the speakers are Landry Signé of Cameroon, Professor of African Studies, Stanford University; Momarr Taal of The Gambia, CEO of Tropingo Foods; Oumar Yam of Senegal, CEO of OuiCarry; Yentyl Williams of Trinidad and Tobago, founder of the ACP Young Professionals Network; Serge Nawej of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chair of the National Commission of Young Entrepreneurs; and Janet Bugembe of Uganda, founder, The Mentorship Class and youth coordinator of Kampala’s Business and Professional Women network. The session will be moderated by George Ndirangu of CNBC Africa.

In the afternoon session Tearing Down Trade Borders, policymakers and business leaders will discuss opportunities the African Continental Free Trade area brings, including for young entrepreneurs.

Among the speakers in the session are Ambassador Albert M. Muchanga, Commissioner of Trade for the African Union; Kayula Siame, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry of Zambia; Frank Matsaert, CEO of TradeMark East Africa; Hennie Heymans, CEO of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa; and Dorothy Tuma, Chair, East African Women in Business Platform.

Young entrepreneurs pitch competition

On Wednesday, 12 September, young social entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas live on stage to a jury of business experts as part of a social entrepreneurship competition. The winner of WEDF 2017’s pitch competition, Michael Ocansey of AgroCenta, will be one of the jurors. The finalists will be announced in early July.

Join the WEDF campaign on youth, trade and jobs

Join our social media campaign, #ScaleUp. The campaign, on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, will feature speakers, sponsors, and partner organizations discussing their priorities to #ScaleUp trade in light of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Take our two-minute survey on youth and trade and voice your opinions by going to www.surveymonkey.com/r/WEDFYOUTH. Survey results will be announced during the conference.

Innovating for the future

The African Continental Free Trade Area, launched in March 2018, enables the free movement of trade and business across the continent, allowing for expanded and better-harmonized trade in the future.

Over 65% of the population in Africa are below 35 years of age. One in five of the total global youth population lives in Africa.

The UnConference offers an innovative way to feature youth aspirations for the future, in order to scale up sustainable solutions for trade across borders.

Partnering to scale up

ITC is partnering with the African Union to promote youth voices in discussions on international trade and business. The AU is the lead body for the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is a flagship programme of Agenda 2063. Learn more about the Youth Division of the African Union Commission.

The ACP Young Professionals Network, an organization dedicated to ensuring that young people are active in policymaking processes, is also a WEDF partner for the Youth UnConference.

Find out more about WEDF 2018, see the programme and meet the speakers at www.intracen.org/wedf.

Register for WEDF 2018 at www.wedf-registration.org.

Notes for the Editor

About the International Trade Centre
The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. For more information, visit www.intracen.org

About the AfCFTA
AFCFTA is an agenda 2063 flagship project, whose implementation is seen as key in accelerating Africa’s growth.The main objectives of the AfCFTA are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of the Customs Union. It will also expand intra-African trade through better harmonization and coordination of trade liberalization and facilitation and instruments across the RECs and across Africa in general. The AfCFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploitation of opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources. Under the leadership of the AfCFTA Leader, Mr Mahamadou Issoufou, President of the Republic of Niger, the AfCFTA agreement has been finalised by African Union Ministers for Trade on December 4, 2017. It is expected to be signed and ratified by African Union member states throughout 2018, while discussions will continue on protocol and implementation processes until 2020.

About the African Union and its Department for Trade and Industry
The vision of the African Union is that of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.” To help achieving this vision on the economic front, the Department for Trade and Industry (DTI). Under the leadership of Commissioner Albert Muchanga, leads on matters relating to intra-African economic integration, and notably the AfCFTA negotiations in collaboration with other departments in the AUC.

For more information, please contact:

International Trade Centre

Jarle Hetland, Media Officer
P: + 41 22 730 0145
M: + 41 79 582 9180
E: hetland [at] intracen.org

African Union

Yafika Chitanda, AfCFTA Communications Officer
M: +251 903110551
E: chitanday [at] gmail.com

Esther Azaa Tankou, Head of Information Division,
Tel: +250 78914032
E-mail: yamboue [at] africa-union.org

Janet Faith Adhiambo Ochieng
E-mail: ochiengJ [at] africa-union.org