Lusaka, Monday, March 25, 2019: The 50 Million African Women Speak (50MAWS) digital platform moved closer to becoming a reality after the kickoff of a two-week training workshop in Lusaka, Zambia Monday, 25th March 2019.
The training will equip users with the required skills to manage the platform setting the stage for its official launch later this year.
The 25th March to 5th April 2019 workshop is hosted by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). It brought together 22 participants from the host regional body as well as the collaborating Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on the 50 Million African Women Speak Project (50MASWP), namely; the East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).
Opening the workshop, the COMESA Assistant Secretary General in charge of Finance and Administration, Dr. Dev Haman described the platform as a “game changer” in the drive to economically empower women entrepreneurs across the African continent. The training, he noted, was an important step in the journey to operationalising the platform.
“This project is a game changer. You will agree with me that we are already experiencing the profound change and efficiency that modern technologies bring to the way we live, work, interact, and do business. Thus, the need to pull in one direction and share knowledge amongst ourselves cannot be overemphasized,” Dr. Haman said.
Through this first-of-a-kind platform, the Assistant Secretary General pointed out the 50MAWS Project has the potential to transform the role of women entrepreneurs in Africa, and noted that its success will immensely contribute towards the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of women as outlined in the gender policies and frameworks of the respective RECs.
“I have no doubt that all the three RECs will be able to use the platform to serve the women in our respective regions and Africa, and collectively achieve the intended goals of the project,” he added.
With the platform design and development in its final stage, the main objective of the workshop is to conduct a hands-on training of the project implementing units, users and IT experts on the platform’s features and functionalities. The training will include detailed testing on content management on the platform.
The training will feature two segments; the first for platform content managers and users, who include gender and communication experts is to run during the first week (25th to 29th March 2019), followed by a technical training for IT staff also drawn from the three RECs, which will take place during the second week (1st to 5th April 2019).
The 50 Million African Women Speak Project (50MAWSP) is funded by the African Development Bank and seeks to address the unique challenges women in general and women entrepreneurs in particular face in accessing financial and non-financial services, which challenges ultimately limit the size and growth of their businesses.
COMESA is the coordinating REC and has the responsibility of developing the platform, hosting and maintenance of the project infrastructure and coordinating implementation of the project.
Once the platform is launched, it will be available in 38 countries which are member states of COMESA, ECOWAS) and the EAC. It will provide a social network that allows women to learn from each other and be able to share lessons, as well as conduct business online.