ITC, African Union Commission partner to empower small businesses unlock intra-African trade
The African Union Commission (AUC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to mark the next chapter of an ongoing partnership.
Together, the organizations will foster inclusive trade in Africa by incorporating small enterprises into the regional economy, and promote the sharing of trade information and market intelligence across Africa through the African Trade Observatory (ATO).
The renewed agreement responds to changes in the global economy and the ongoing regional integration process in Africa underpinned by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). It reaffirms the dedication, shared vision and joint efforts of the African Union and the lead UN agency on small business development.
Key areas highlighted in the framework of cooperation include advancing the African Trade Observatory, an online tool developed by ITC that provides policymakers and businesses real-time trade data; promoting key continental value chains to reinforce industrial development; integrating small businesses into the regional trade process to take advantage of the AfCFTA; and mainstreaming the economic empowerment of women and young entrepreneurs for inclusive trade.
H.E Ambassador Albert Muchanga, Commissioner for Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry, Minerals (ETTIM), said: ‘The MOU cements the strong relationship that already exists between the two institutions. It will catalyse implementation of the African Union SME Strategy, operationalization of the ATO, protection of intellectual property, as well as promotion of private sector development in Africa.’
Pamela Coke-Hamilton, ITC Executive Director, said: ‘With this new agreement, our two institutions are stepping up our collaboration to deliver on our shared vision of an interconnected, industrial and inclusive Africa. Together, we’ll continue to equip small businesses with the information and skills they need to integrate into regional and continental value chains – and get the visibility they need through a Made in Africa label – so they can earn more, create quality jobs and transform societies.’
The African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government declared ‘Acceleration of AfCFTA Implementation’ as the theme of the year 2023. This year, the AUC and ITC will train small businesses attending the Intra-African Trade Fair and AU Women in Processing Summit in Cairo, Egypt, in November on how to compete and transact in the African marketplace.
The ATO database will be expanded, and enterprises will receive training on how to use the tool for business expansion. ITC will also support the AU on fully operationalizing its Enterprise Africa Network to strengthen the continent’s overall business ecosystem, to make it easier for businesses to trade.