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EU pledges €74m support for AfCFTA

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The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is gathering momentum since trading began January 1, 2021. With a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, the AfCFTA is projected to led to a new era of development on the continent.

According to David Luke, the Coordinator of the Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), the AfCFTA should be made to work as it is the continent’s only path to sustainable development.

The European Union (EU) has pledged €74 million to support the AfCFTA. The Secretary General of the All Africa Association for Small and Medium Enterprises (AAASME), Ebiekure Eradiri, announced that the EU made the pledge of €74 million to the fCFTA to support small medium enterprises (SMEs).

Eradiri made the disclosure at the end of a three-day micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) consultation on the AfCFTA in Dakar, organized by the ECA and AUNIQUEI Communication Company, with financial support from the EU.

Making the announcement, Eradiri said; “I hope this information can help ignite your commitment towards ensuring that the AfCFTA does not fail,” adding, “Let us build Africa, grow Africa, and buy Africa.”

A press release from the ECA and copied to Ghana Business News says, the goal of the hybrid forum was to give an insight into the challenges the AfCFTA poses to the MSMEs, find solutions to them, and encourage them to build networks across the continent.

Making remarks on the issue of improving skills in the sector, Mr. Eradiri said the enterprises should scale up their skills and competences to be in tune with present realities.

He noted that the AAASME intended to set up entrepreneurship and technology parks across Africa to help accelerate the pace of innovation on the continent.

MSMEs employ the most people, occupy the biggest position in making contribution to countries’ gross domestic product, and are a force for social, economic, and political stability.

At the end of the consultation, participants made recommendation and urged the harnessing of the benefits of AfCFTA, calling on governments to incentivize the MSMEs by buying their goods and services while giving them tax incentives to make them more competitive.

To leverage Africa’s rich human assets in the AfCFTA, the needs and priorities of women and youth must also be reflected in the frameworks being established, they added.

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