COMESA, in Partnership with ITC, Spearheads SMEs’ Participaction in the AfCFTA T hrough Market Analysis Capacity Building

Lusaka, Zambia, Wednesday 24th August 2022……………COMESA Business Council (CBC) in partnership with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the International Trade Centre (ITC), and the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry has set the tone for implementation of one of the five operational instruments of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) through embarking on training of over three hundred (300) export-ready Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Business Support Institutions, over the next few months, on market analysis using the African Trade Observatory in Zambia, Malawi, Ethiopia and Egypt. This capacity building initiative is supported under the COMESA Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme (RECAMP) funded by 11th European Development Fund.

The African Trade Observatory (ATO) dashboard is an integrated digital platform critical for helping businesses identify and compare emerging opportunities across the continent by providing integrated and reliable trade intelligence on trends and market access conditions. With Africa positioning itself for the start of commercially meaningful trade under the AfCFTA, the ATO is now ever more so pertinent.

Speaking on the side-lines of the training, COMESA Director Industry and Agriculture, Ms Providence Mavubi, noted that the training is imperative as it will contribute to unlocking new market opportunities for MSMEs in Zambia.

She added that lack of access to market information limits MSMEs’ innovative edge to value add and produce quality goods as they remain unaware of key market requirements and trends.
‘’This capacity building initiative has come at the right time when we need to reinvigorate our market linkages more so with the ravaging effect that Covid 19 has had on them’’ she stated.
“Let me assure all MSMEs present today that this training programme will prove to be a game changer in their way of accessing market opportunities locally, regionally, and international and will complement other initiatives that we as COMESA are promoting such as the BIZNET, Sokokuu and 50 million African Woman speak platforms’’ she said.

And COMESA Business Council Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Dickson Poloji, noted that market access and the availability of relevant and good quality data is critical for business success.
“We receive a lot of enquiries about market access information; the ATO is therefore an important resource that will drive the private sector, especially SMEs, to more actively and competitively participate in the AfCFTA. I implore businesses to take advantage of this unique opportunity to capture value from the regional market, towards not only recovery from the adverse effects of the pandemic, but also for long-term strategic growth.’’ he stated.

Meanwhile, Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry Executive Director, Phill Daka, stated that the training of export-ready SMEs on market analysis using the African Trade Observatory is timely as it will help in unlocking SME potential to value add and trade competitively both at national and global markets.

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