Juba, South Sudan, November 9, 2023: The East African Business Council (EABC) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) joined forces to conduct a groundbreaking sensitization workshop, empowering over 50 SMEs, women, and youth entrepreneurs in South Sudan on the intricacies of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The workshop aims to foster readiness among SMEs to capitalize on the opportunities presented by AfCFTA.
Participants, representing diverse sectors including cross-border trade, services, agriculture, manufacturing, and processing, as well as extractives, engaged in insightful discussions throughout the two-day event. The workshop provides a platform for these key players to assess the status of AfCFTA negotiations and decipher the protocols’ implications for their businesses.
In his remarks, Mr. Geoffrey Kamanzi, Policy Manager of Trade in Services , representing EABC CEO Mr. John Bosco Kalisa said, “In preparation to seize the opportunities presented by the AfCFTA, the EABC appreciates the Republic of South Sudan in supporting the economic integration of the EAC, signing the AfCFTA agreement, the efforts towards the ratification process of the AfCFTA Agreement as well as the efforts in supporting the SMEs to trade with their counterparts in the region as well as the continent.
“The AfCFTA represents 1.3 billion people/consumers and this population is expected to increase to 1.7 billion people by 2030 out of which about 600 million will be in the middle class. The agreement is expected to contribute to a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion and consumer spending of close to USD 4 trillion. The AfCFTA will lift 20 million people out of extreme poverty and 60 million people out of moderate poverty by 2035”, he said.
Mr. Stephen Doctor, Director General of External Trade (Ministry of Trade and Industry) commended EABC for the initiative to empower businesses in light of AfCFTA. Mr. Doctor spoke on the vital role SMEs play in mass production and value addition for the continental market. He appealed to the private sector to ensure compliance with external market standards and professionalize business systems for seamless connection to continental markets.
On his part, Mr. Angello Ladu Gor, General Manager, South Sudan Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture and Industry stated that the increase of trade in the continent facilitated by the political will to implement AfCFTA. He emphasized the need for policymakers to invest in infrastructure, particularly in transportation and logistics supply chains, to enhance cross-border trade.
The sensitization will enlighten South Sudanese SMEs on the challenges and opportunities within the continental market in order to contribute significantly to intra-African trade.