AWIEF conference resolution calls for inclusion of women in AfCFTA process

A resolution adopted at the Africa Women Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) 5th Annual Conference & Expo, could have far reaching implications for women economic empowerment in Africa.

The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum Conference made history this week when it called for the economic empowerment of women to be linked to the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), at its annual gathering of leading women politicians, businesswomen and entrepreneurs on the continent, 29-30 October 2019, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), Cape Town, South Africa.

The initial call was made by renowned economic activist and social entrepreneur, Wendy Luhabe, from the stage on the first day, for radical action and not just conversation, leading to the adoption on Day 2, by the gathering of influential women of a resolution to be delivered to the Chair of the African Union.

Said Luhabe, the Founder of the Women’s Private Equity Fund and co-founder WINDE: “Women do not get invited when nations are going through transitions. We have to make a space for ourselves.”

The resolution states that: “The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), is a monumental milestone on Africa’s developmental roadmap that must be exploited to the full for intra-Africa trade. It will unleash almost unlimited opportunities, new economies of scale, and income and employment generation through greater market and economic integration.

“We are concerned that if women are not involved in finalising the details of the Agreement, women will be excluded from the opportunities that will be unleashed.”

AWIEF Founder and CEO, Irene Ochem, lauded the occasion as indeed momentous for women on the continent of Africa.

The resolution in full is as follows:

RESOLUTION TAKEN ON OCCASION OF THE 5TH AFRICA WOMEN INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP FORUM (AWIEF) CONFERENCE HELD ON 29-30 OCTOBER 2019, AT THE CAPE TOWN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE (CTICC), CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA.

“The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), is a monumental milestone on Africa’s developmental roadmap that must be exploited to the full for intra-Africa trade. It will unleash almost unlimited opportunities, new economies of scale, and income and employment generation through greater market and economic integration.

Women of Africa, representing different African countries, met in Cape Town, South Africa, on 29 and 30 October 2019, to discuss how women in Africa can enhance economic development impact through leveraging digitalisation, investment in women and their enterprises and how the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement and intra-Africa trade will benefit women favourably.

Through this Resolution, which has been signed by all the women in attendance, we seek your unconditional support as Chair of the African Union (AU), to ensure that women are involved in Committees that will draft the AfCFTA implementation protocols and be involved in the Committee of Ministers responsible for trade.

We are concerned that if women are not involved in finalising the details of the Agreement, women will be excluded from the opportunities that will be unleashed.

We need to have a few seats at the table and we can propose a list of women to be considered.”

AWIEF, which this year celebrates the 5th anniversary of its benchmarking Conference, Expo and Awards, hosted more than 60 African and global thought leaders across business and politics to share insight and thought leadership. UNECA, World Bank, USAID, CTA, Shell, Nedbank, APO Group headlined the flagship event.

The conference theme this year was, Enhancing Impact: Digitalisation, Investment and Intra-African Trade. The two-day event aimed to promote and accelerate the growth of women-owned and women-led businesses for Africa’s inclusive economic growth; share entrepreneurship trends; connect and network with trailblazers from all over Africa and beyond.

AWIEF 2019 Keynote speakers included Dr Vera Songwe, United Nations Undersecretary General and Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); Arunma Oteh, Academic Scholar, Oxford University and former Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank; Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Chancellor Nelson Mandela University and former Vice President and Special Envoy on gender to the African Development Bank (AfDB).

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