To develop their capacity to participate in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), about thirty-five women entrepreneurs from diverse business backgrounds in Liberia have successfully completed a three-day export readiness training workshop in Monrovia.
AfCFTA was established in January 2012, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and entered into force on May 30, 2021, with a focus on creating a single African market for goods and services.
The idea is also aimed at facilitating the free movement of persons and capital to deepen economic integration and accelerate the establishment of a single continental customs union.
State parties to the AfCFTA agreed to a 90% elimination of tariffs on goods and that, of the remaining 10%, 7% may be designated as sensitive, while 3% of the tariff lines can be excluded from liberalization.
However, the export readiness training workshop, which started on Tuesday, August 23 to 25, was organized by ECOWAS and the International Trade Centre (ITC) SheTrades Initiative.
The workshop aimed to empower women in the AfCFTA, introducing the participants to a full knowledge and understanding of export requirements, procedures, and solutions; to assess their company’s readiness to enter regional markets; as well as potential export strategies, amongst others.
Held in collaboration with the Federation of Business Women and Entrepreneurs (FEBWE), the export readiness training workshop provides knowledge and ensures that the participants have the confidence and skills necessary to undertake the AfCFTA.
Luopu Garmi Blackie, the consultant for the project, outlined that the objectives of the export-readiness training workshop were intended to build capacity amongst women-owned businesses that are export- or near export-ready, with products or services that can be exported under the framework of the AfCFTA.
“So, we are working with them to strengthen their capacity to ensure that they are ready to export their products,” she said.
Blackie also stated that the training provided capacity-building tools to help the women improve their international competitiveness and increase their penetration in the new market.
Additionally, the consultant highlighted that the export readiness training workshop sought to improve the understanding of Liberian women entrepreneurs in AfCFTA and the opportunities related to their countries and sectors.
Dorothy Tuma, a Ugandan facilitator, told the Daily Observer in an exclusive interview that the workshop was geared towards the preparation of the AfCFTA market.
She noted that the training held for the women is in the right direction because the AfCFTA agreement is opening to African countries so that they can trade with one another freely and have access to a bigger market.
Tuma disclosed that some of the lessons learnt from the training included the lack of packaging, which is very critical to the AfCFTA.
She observed that some of the products in Liberia have been packaged in recycled bottles and that is not going to work for the export market under the AfCFTA. Tuma emphasized the importance of proper product packaging in Liberia.
She said when it comes to quality standards, people should be able to test their products right here in Liberia instead of spending or traveling to another country to test them.
“Before you export, you must meet the quality standard. The product must be tested well, but I am told that the standard lab here is not up to standard,” said Tuma.
Also speaking, the participants expressed excitement and thanked the organizers for the added knowledge that would help them ensure their products meet the standard of the international market.
They further described the export readiness training workshop as innovative and eye-opening for them in terms of what they need to do to meet the standards of the AfCFTA.