Trade Tuesday: Looking Around The Corner

It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.  

Winston Churchill 

The African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, is a free trade agreement whose main objective is to create a single continental market for services and goods, with free movement of investments and trade people. AfCFTA entered into force on 30 May 2019 for 24 countries that had deposited their instruments of ratification. AfCTA provides the potential opportunity to unlock a 1.2 billion people opportunity with a combined GDP of 3.4 trillion USD.  The United Nations Economic Commission on Africa projects a 52.3% increase of the intra Africa trade with increased opportunities of scale, reduced barriers for market access and enhanced competitiveness across the African continent. 

The AfCFTA has the potential to produce opportunities in economic sectors where women are concentrated, including Agriculture, Manufacturing and Services. However, this is not automatic, The AU members are expected to take deliberate steps in the implementation of gender sensitive policies to ensure men and women benefit equally from trade opportunities under the AfCFTA. 

So what opportunities will AfCFTA potentially open up for women in business? 

  • AfCFTA will enable significant economies of scale, that support agro-manufacturing which adds value to agricultural products and expands employment opportunities. This are initiatives that empower participation on women in Agro packaging and processing. 
  • Women manufacturing business sector will be promoted as Africa seeks to develop manufacturing base. This would be through increased women participation in industries, particularly export oriented manufacturing industry. 
  • AU member states are expected to enable women take advantage of higher service skilled jobs in consideration to gender-sensitive regulatory and policy framework. 
  • AU members are expected to ensure women benefit from AfCFTA trade opportunities through implementation of gender-sensitive measures. AfCFTA non-tariff barrier mechanism provides women in business a voice to report and resolve trade barriers. 

Opportunities for women in AfCFTA require interventions that go beyond protecting traditionally female industry to measures that support building of trade related infrastructure, technical and vocational training programs, impact on the care burden of women and ICT.  

With love,
Mucha Mlingo
President, OWIT Nairobi
Founder, PTS Africa

At OWIT Nairobi, we have a vision to empower women to transform communities through global trade. We are committed to creating opportunities for women to connect to global markets. As a Business Support Organisation, we work closely with our members to ensure access to the necessary tools to build businesses that can go global.

For more information about OWIT Nairobi – visit our website, 

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