African Continental Free Trade Area Youth Symposium Kicks Off in Lusaka with Focus on Trade’s Future

The eagerly anticipated African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Youth Symposium, themed “Igniting the Future for Youth in Trade,” commenced today in Lusaka, Zambia. Organized by the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry in collaboration with the AfCFTA Secretariat, the three-day event aims to unite young minds, policymakers, and thought leaders in discussions surrounding the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA.

In her opening remarks, Mrs. Lillian S. Bwalya, the Permanent Secretary-T&C of the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry, extended a warm welcome to the distinguished attendees, including honorable ministers, permanent secretaries, senior government officials, AfCFTA Secretariat representatives, international organization representatives, youths, youth organization representatives, media professionals, and delegates.

The symposium’s underlying purpose is to foster a productive dialogue on the potential of the AfCFTA, exploring its prospects and how it can be leveraged to uplift Africa’s youth. Acknowledging the significance of the event, Mrs. Bwalya expressed gratitude to the AfCFTA Secretariat for selecting Zambia as the host country.

Mrs. Bwalya extended appreciation to all cooperating partners for their unwavering support in ensuring the symposium’s successful organization.The symposium presents a unique platform for young individuals to engage with key policymakers and industry leaders, delving into topics such as trade opportunities, innovation, entrepreneurship, and areas in need of improvement. The event signifies a positive stride towards Article 3 of the Framework Agreement establishing the AfCFTA, which emphasizes inclusivity through youth participation.

Addressing the demographic context, Mrs. Bwalya highlighted that Africa boasts the world’s youngest population, with 60% of its people being under 25. While this signifies a significant workforce and potential economic growth, youth unemployment remains a pressing challenge.

The symposium underscores the necessity to support businesses, particularly Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), engaged in sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, services, and informal trading, where youth play a crucial role. Effective implementation of the AfCFTA could potentially unlock avenues for Africa’s youth to contribute to the continent’s industrialization and economic transformation.

The AfCFTA, which offers increased market access, regional value chain participation, and employment opportunities, can serve as a catalyst for the region’s economic development, provided it is embraced with political will and commitment from all parties.

The event aligns well with the 2023 African Union Theme “Accelerating the implementation of the AfCFTA.” Mrs. Bwalya commended the AfCFTA Secretariat’s efforts in advancing negotiations and protocols for the AfCFTA’s realization.

Notably, the symposium arrives at a time when the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade is nearing completion, which holds promise for empowering women and youth in trade endeavors and improving border governance and trade facilitation.

Concluding her remarks, Mrs. Bwalya urged Africa’s youth to actively participate in the symposium, as their insights and voices will steer the implementation of the Protocol on Women and Youth in Trade.

The symposium continues over the next two days, fostering engaging discussions and exchange of ideas among the attendees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *