THE International Trade Centre (ITC) has partnered with the African Import-Export Bank (Afreximbank), to launch a new training programme aimed at capacitating small businesses on how to export within the African Continental Free Area (AfCFTA).
The ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations while AfreximBank is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra-and extra-African trade.
Designed using a problem-solving approach, the new training programme uses case studies to examine key export concepts in relation to enterprises and the challenges faced in the export field.
The concepts include export readiness, market research, market development, market access conditions, trade finance and international logistics. Under the programme, entrepreneurs will benefit from the focus on intra-African export operations and advantages related to intra-regional trade.
The initiative was launched today at the Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF) 2021, which is taking place in Durban, South Africa until 21 November.
It combines both online and offline elements to teach current and prospective African exporters the fundamentals of intra-African trade, as well as explore the opportunities resulting from the AfCFTA.
Developed with African businesses in mind, the “How to export within the AfCFTA ” training partnership programme seeks to break down trade barriers for previously under-represented groups.
“Its overall aim is to support the operationalization of the AfCFTA and to equip small businesses with the skills to seize the export opportunities presented by the new trading environment,” said the two organisations in a joint press statement.
“Afreximbank and ITC launched the pilot of this programme in Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Rwanda in 2020.
“Within a week of its unveiling, the high level of interest in the learning contents was quickly apparent, with approximately 1,500 applications for the course received in the first few days.”
According to the statement, ITC and Afreximbank have made the programme’s online component freely available on the Afreximbank Academy online platform to ensure that previously marginalized groups including women and youth have access.
Following the successful implementation of the pilot phase, phase two is expected to include the translation of the programme, which is currently available in English and French, into Arabic and Portuguese. It will also expand its online component to all 55 African countries.
Commenting on the development, ITC executive director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, said the “How to export with the AfCFTA” training programme was crucial in empowering African small businesses and accelerating intra-African trade.
“Besides a shortage of working capital, small businesses consistently report difficulties in identifying foreign business opportunities and an inability to analyse export markets as the biggest barriers to exporting,” she said.
“Providing them with information, knowledge and tools to overcome the challenges of international trade, the training programme will play a pivotal role in enabling them to contribute to the Agreement’s success.”
To support the success of the AfCFTA, Afreximbank has already completed the development of a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the historic continental trade deal.
The bank is also working with the AU and the AfCFTA Secretariat to develop an Adjustment Facility to support countries in effectively participating in the AfCFTA.
ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transitioning 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.