Madam Roslyn Ngeno, Senior Investment Expert, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) has urged Ghanaian women entrepreneurs to venture into technical oriented fields to pioneer innovation and be competitive in the free trade market.
She asked them to add value to products and position them in the global space to maximize the full benefits of AfCTA.
Madam Ngeno said this at a National Consultative forum for women in intra-African trade, organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
She said AfCTA had created opportunities for African women, stressing that gender inclusion was necessary for the achievement of the free trade system.
Women entrepreneurship, she said played an important indicator for the country’s development agenda because their work impacted positively on the socio-economic wellbeing of society.
“When women are empowered, there is change in development.
"Meaningful growth requires women to play a part to advance to improve their livelihoods for national development,” she said.
She urged businesses to ensure that the quality and packaging of their products met standards to attract the attention of consumers.
Madam Ngeno advised them to ensure consistency in their businesses to sustain their clients and create specialties for themselves and obey the trade rules in order not to miss the opportunities that the continental trade would offer.
She said AfCFTA would undoubtedly offer an opportunity for Small and Medium Enterprises to deepen their economic footprint and expand intra African trade through better harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation and facilitation instruments across the various regional economic communities on the continent.
Dr Angela Lusigi, the UNDP Resident Representative, said research indicated that over 70 per cent of cross-border traders, especially those engaged in informal trade were women, and that understanding their needs and giving them platform would enhance their businesses.
She said to ensure that the promise for women yielded expected results, it was critical that the unique challenges they faced were brought to the fore for solutions to foster utilisation of opportunities in the AfCTA.
Dr Lusigi said consultations had started in the Northern belt in Tamale and the middle belt in Kumasi and revealed huge existing potentials that could be enhanced for women to effectively benefit from the AfCTA.
The engagement also revealed some challenges related to certification, branding, inadequate machinery for large scale production, high transaction cost of doing business on the continent and language barrier related to trading with francophone countries.
Some of the participants called for training to build their knowledge on the AfCTA requirement in terms of standardisation and certification to compete favorably with other products across the continent.
Ms Esther Ama Asante, an Entrepreneur and Founder of Organic Trade and Investment, urged participants to take advantage of the digital space to market their products to improve their business fortunes.
She called on authorities to help in facilitating the certification process of their products and review the cost of shipment to facilitate smooth movement of goods and products across the continent.