The African Union Development Agency and African Electronic Trade Group organised a High Level Pre-launch webinar themed “Towards an Integrated Market for MSMEs and Large Businesses” on the 1st July 2020 as part of the commemorative activities towards the Africa Integration Week/Day and to commemorate the milestone of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which was to have come into effect on July 1 2020 but was postponed due the onset of COVID-19.
The meeting sought to provide a public-private dialogue platform that engages a network of stakeholders in AfCFTA implementation and digital transformation at national, regional and continental level. It also doubled as a high-level pre-launch event for the Youth Start Up Competition launch and the African E-Commerce Launch that are scheduled to take place on Africa Integration due on 7th July 2020. The AeTrade Group introduced its initiatives working with various partners at national, regional, continental and global levels.
The meeting was co-hosted by the Mr Amine Idriss Adoum, Director AUDA-NEPAD who stood in for CEO of AUDA-NEPAD, Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki and the CEO and Chairman of the Ae-Trade Group, Mr. Mulualem Syoum. Both leaders gave opening remarks to kick start the meeting. Which was followed by vibrant Panel Sessions whose topics were “harnessing political commitment for the AfCFTA implementation with Women and Youth as the Key Drivers”, “Made in Africa for the AfCFTA Market – What is takes” and “Mobilising Strategic Partnerships for Africa’s Digital Economy”. Key messages from the opening remarks by delivered on behalf of Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, Mr. Mulualem Syoum and the panellists highlighted;
• The crucial role of harnessing strategic partnerships which are coordinated by AU institutions. There is a need to scale up existing efforts in order to have accelerated impact.
• The pivotal role of the private sector in driving digital transformation was recognized, with coordination by AUC and AUDA, under the leadership of the AU Heads of State and Government.
• The need for establishing a quality ecosystem to support MSMEs benefit from the enlarged market on the continent, including opportunities to provide services to the corporate sector and Governments.
• importance of African -led initiatives leveraging international partnership which bring mutual benefits was also mentioned as a critical success factor.
• Importance of digital innovations in the context leveraging and enabling the realisation of AfCFTA
In his closing remarks, Mr. Amine Idriss, Director, AUDA-NEPAD highlighted the critical challenge of the Digital Divide despite increased mobile phone penetration across the continent. He underscored this an area of increased investment. He wrapped up by emphasising three main points; the need for strong leadership from the African Union at the level of Heads of State and Government, effective stakeholder coordination with the private sector taking the lead in the implementation with governments providing the policy environment and the need to leverage and build upon existing partnerships for the implementation of continental frameworks such as PIDA, SATTM, Smart Africa and other regional/continental initiatives.
In closing Mr. Mulualem Syoum, thanked all the Speakers and Panellists’ as well as participants for joining the webinar. He mentioned that it was a useful platform to engage in a stimulating dialogue on the various topics including, finance, agriculture, development, public and private sectors business and collaboration among ourselves will Africa rise again. Together we can make Africa great again I see that today we are committed to working together towards a sustainable digital transformation that delivers tangible benefits for the women, youth and SMEs on the continent .