The Government of the Republic of Zambia, in partnership with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, is set to host the inaugural AfCFTA Youth Symposium from 21st to 23rd August, 2023, at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia. This landmark event aims to engage and empower the continent’s youth in the realms of trade and commerce.
Under the theme “Igniting the Future for Youth in Trade,” the symposium aligns with the commitment made by the 13th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union to promote inclusiveness within the AfCFTA’s operations. This includes initiatives that bolster the involvement of young Africans, women, and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the AfCFTA framework.
The AfCFTA Youth Symposium serves as a vital platform for youths across Africa to directly engage with key stakeholders, including the Secretary General of the AfCFTA Secretariat, policymakers, opinion leaders, academia, and financial institutions. The discussions will center around fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, and achieving structural transformation that facilitates inclusive trading under the AfCFTA.
The symposium will adopt a hybrid format to accommodate both African youth on the continent and those in the diaspora, ensuring that discussions encompass a comprehensive perspective on youth participation in trade matters. It will be solution-focused and will highlight the innovative and entrepreneurial prowess of African youth.
One of the key aims of the AfCFTA Youth Symposium is to provide a stage for young entrepreneurs to explore and discuss the plethora of opportunities presented by the AfCFTA and how these opportunities can be optimally harnessed. Building upon the foundation set by the 2022 inaugural AfCFTA Conference on Women and Youth in Trade, this symposium will catalyze further progress.
The anticipated outcomes of the symposium include:
- Enhancing the understanding of the AfCFTA’s objectives, principles, and scope among youth in the trade.
- Facilitating connections between young producers and suppliers and potential partners and investors.
- Sharing information about the utilization of trading tools within the AfCFTA framework.
- Providing networking opportunities for youth engaged in trade.
- Offering recommendations that will guide the implementation of the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade.
The AfCFTA Youth Symposium will bring together young people from diverse trade backgrounds, ensuring representation across age groups (15-35 years), genders, regions, industries, and youth policymakers. It will also provide a platform for attendees to learn from trade and development experts, mentors, and role models who have excelled in Africa and beyond.
Exhibitors from various regions, backgrounds, and sectors will also seize the opportunity to showcase their products and services, fostering connections and collaborations among like-minded entrepreneurs.
Above all, the AfCFTA Youth Symposium is a pivotal moment for African youth to influence the trajectory of trade and development on the continent. It serves as a platform for voicing opinions, expressing concerns, showcasing potential, and demonstrating the value that youth bring to Africa’s economic growth.
This symposium is poised to pave the way for the youth to fully harness the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA, ensuring that they become active participants and beneficiaries of this transformative trade agreement.