Skills development, enhanced education critical for success of AfCFTA – Panellists
Panellists at a day’s stakeholder programme on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement for decent work have called for skills development and enhanced education on the programme, particularly for women to ensure the success of the programme.
That, the panellists who discussed the prospects and challenges of AfCFTA said, would help better position the country to harness the benefits of the AfCFTA.
The day’s programme was organised by ActionAid, an international non-governmental organisation under the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) funded project on the theme “Combating Modern Slavery in Ghana.”
The project is meant to complement government’s efforts in eradicating modern day slavery which manifest in the form of forced labour, child labour and human trafficking also provide a platform for deliberation on the impact of AfCFTA agreement for the acceleration of regional economic value chains.
A Lecturer of University of Ghana Law School, Augustine B. Kidisil, said skills development would go a long way to help the country tap the benefits of AfCFTA.
To this end, he said the country’s educational system must be reformed to produce students with technical skills with capacity to produce the needs of the country.
Mr Kidisil stressed the need for more attention to be paid on infrastructure development to help the movement of products from the hinterlands to the cities and ports.
“Access to finance and focus on innovation are essential to help local companies to produce for the regional markets,” he said.
Professor Akosua Darkwah, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana, said there was the need for the country to intensify education on the AfCFTA, stressing that the regional initiative must align to the needs of the entire citizenry, particularly women.
According to her, a lot of women who were engaged in trading had little knowledge and information about the AfCFTA, saying “We need to make AfCFTA work for women.”
She said more education was needed to help women understand the voluminous documents and trade protocols on AfCFTA, mostly written in English and French.
Prof. Darkwah suggested the creation of Industrial Hubs around the country to help women produce for the regional market.
A Security Analyst and Executive Director for Center for Human Security and Peace Building, Adib Saani, said though the AfCFTA was work in progress, efforts must be made to address the concerns of stakeholders, particularly women.
He said the creation of Industrial Hub across the country would help women to process and add value to sheabutter and other products for the regional market.
Mr Saani called for political commitment from the African leaders to make the AfCFTA work.
The Country Director of ActionAid, John Nkaw in his remarks said the theme for the programme was “The Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement and Regional Economic Integration: Reflections and Opportunities for Decent Work and Human Security.”
He said the AfCFTA initiative, which aimed at creating a single market for goods and services, facilitated by movement of persons was commendable.
Mr Nkaw said decent work was one of the priority areas of ActionAid because the organisation stood for a just, equitable and sustainable world in which every person enjoyed the right to a life of dignity, freedom from poverty and all forms of oppression.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE