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…says women drivers of the African economy
The Federal Government on Wednesday called on banks to set up gender desks with a view to going the extra mile in identifying and prioritising targets of potential women borrowers.
The government said that the platform would ascertain and provide financial empowerment African Development Bank to support women-led Farmers’ Based Associations and MSMEs to promote agriculture in certain African countries.
While describing women as drivers of the African economy, the government said that more women needed to be encouraged to go into technically oriented fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Maryam Yalwaji Katagum, represented by the Director of Commodity and Export Department, Suleiman A. Audu, stated this at the second series of African Women Trade Conference 2022 organised by the Organisation of Women in International Trade (Nigeria), in collaboration with other OWIT African countries with the theme, “Positioning African women for the next big opportunity in the regional and global marketplace.”
According to her, as part of efforts to position women to enable them to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area, the following should be considered:
“Preparation for gender inclusion in national ACFTA strategies and policies. Companies have to invest in women directly by integrating gender policies and practices with global diversity: Women’s personal safety when determining working conditions and hours.
“Banks should set up gender desks with a view to going the extra mile in identifying and prioritizing targets of potential women borrowers as a platform for ascertaining and providing financial empowerment from African Development Bank to support women-led Farmers Based Associations and MSMEs to promote agriculture in certain African countries.
“Greater efforts need to be made to provide women with access to technical education and on-the-job training. Targeted entrepreneurship training can help women entrepreneurs grasp the opportunities that open markets create and calibrate their businesses toward those opportunities through creativity and innovation.”
Katagum said more women should be encouraged to go into technically oriented Science, Technology, Engineering and mathematics fields to be able to pioneer scientific innovations that are inclusive and shape business trends.
According to her, women needed to be able to pioneer scientific innovations that are inclusive and shape business trends.
She called for synergy and cooperation among all Africans, regardless of background to be gender sensitive in the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area if it must attain its desired goal.
The Minister said, “With the launch of trading under the ACFTA in January 2021, the expectations are high as relates to the expanded business prospects for women-led businesses, which will unlock the potential for African women to grow their businesses from micro to macro enterprises.
“The agreement establishing the ACFTA recognizes the need to build and improve the export capacity of both formal and informal service suppliers, with particular attention to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in which women and youth actively participate.
“Through the ACFTA, informal and micro and small enterprises will be integrated into the continental markets breaking the barriers these businesses constantly encounter as they try to penetrate more advanced regional and overseas markets.
“Women, estimated to account for 70 per cent of informal cross-border trade in Africa, will be well positioned to tap into regional export destinations and use regional markets as stepping stones for expanding into overseas markets. By reducing tariffs and with simplified trading regimes for small traders, ACFTA makes it more affordable for informal traders to operate through formal channels which offer more protection by addressing the vulnerabilities of women in cross-border trade.”
One of the panellists at the event and specialist in cross-border trad, Flora Agbiji Ndifon, said cross-border communities were being abandoned and lacked infrastructures.
“The only things that you will see in any border communities are custom officers and other related agencies,” she said.
Ndifon urged the government to pay attention to the development of border communities.