African trade portal widens continental commerce
The African Trade Observatory - African trade portal – is being punted as a catalyst to spur small business in the African Free Trade Area.
The African Trade Observatory portal is one of the five operational instruments of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to drive intraregional trade of small businesses.
The online dashboard is critical for helping businesses identify and compare emerging opportunities across the continent, says International Trade Centre.
This comes as more than 80 firms and public agencies in Eswatini and Zimbabwe have completed training on the use of the portal, which is aimed at unlocking trade opportunities.
The COMESA Business Council, International Trade Centre and the COMESA Secretariat's Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme, funded by the European Development Fund, partnered with Business Eswatini and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce to provide the training to the business community on the African Trade Observatory.
To date, training has also been carried out in Zambia, Malawi, Egypt and Ethiopia. A further four member states – Kenya, Seychelles, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – have been earmarked for the third and fourth quarters of the year.
According to the International Trade Centre, the portal provides ‘integrated and reliable trade intelligence’ on international market performance and opportunities, as well as market access conditions.
COMESA Business Council’s CEO, Teddy Soobramanien, commented:“This capacity building initiative is vital and timely as COMESA Member States continue to position themselves for commercially meaningful trade under the AfCFTA.
“Small and medium-sized enterprises contribute over 70% to the region’s economic growth; therefore, galvanising their transition into regional and global value chains is of fundamental importance to the regional integration agenda.
“This training will complement other COMESA initiatives, such as the COMESA Digital Retail Payments Platform, and the Regional Customs Single Window.”