Honourable Engineer Elias Mubanga, Member of Parliament and Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, delivered a fervent address today at the inaugural Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) Youth Symposium. The event, themed “Igniting the Future for Youth in Trade,” brought together government officials, youth representatives, and industry leaders to discuss the role of young entrepreneurs in shaping Africa’s economic landscape.
Hon. Chipoka Mulenga, MP, Minister of Commerce, Trade, and Industry; Hon. Elvis Nkandu, MP, Minister of Youth, Sport, and Arts; and Mr. Wamukele Mene, Secretary-General of the AFCFTA Secretariat, were among the distinguished attendees at the event.
In his opening remarks, Minister Elias Mubanga expressed his enthusiasm for the symposium and extended gratitude to the AFCFTA Secretariat for choosing Zambia as the host country. He emphasized the need for Africa to harness the potential of its youth and elevate their participation in business and economic development.
Mubanga highlighted the economic opportunities that would arise from the full implementation of AFCFTA, especially with the infusion of innovation, technology, art, and science. He underscored that enhanced market access, affordable finance, and skill development for African-origin entrepreneurs were pivotal aspects that AFCFTA would facilitate.
Drawing attention to Zambia’s small and medium enterprise (SME) sector, Mubanga accentuated the significant contribution of SMEs to employment and the national GDP. He underlined the symposium’s role in raising awareness and knowledge within the SME and cooperative sector. With 88% of all businesses in Zambia attributed to SMEs, the minister stressed the importance of cultivating a new breed of international African entrepreneurs through events like the AFCFTA Youth Symposium.
As the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, Mubanga affirmed the Zambian government’s commitment to fostering youth enterprises and providing an enabling environment for their growth. He resonated with the idea that empowering the youth in trade and business would positively impact the nation’s economic landscape and reinforce the continental agenda of economic transformation.
Encouraging the youth to seize opportunities, Mubanga urged them to embrace innovation, technology, and cross-border collaboration. He called on the young entrepreneurs to actively contribute to the development of Africa by creating markets, networking, and sharing insights with their peers.
In closing, Minister Elias Mubanga extended his gratitude to the AFCFTA Secretariat and all youth participants for their dedication to igniting Africa’s economic future. He underscored the importance of youth-driven entrepreneurship in shaping the continent’s economic destiny and urged the young minds to channel their creativity and passion into transformative ventures.
The AFCFTA Youth Symposium marks a significant milestone in Africa’s journey towards harnessing its youth potential for economic growth. As the event continues, its impact on shaping the future of trade and entrepreneurship in Africa remains profound.