“This forum is timely, as it creates an opportunity for Batswana to contribute to the African Continental Free Trade Area design.” – Honourable Anna Mokgethi, Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs
Gaborone, Botswana, June 22nd 2021 – UNDP Botswana in partnership with the UN Resident Coordinators Office and UN Women in SA, hosted the Women in Trade National Consultations in Botswana event, on Tuesday 22nd June in Gaborone.
In December 2020, at the African Union Extraordinary Summit on the AfCFTA, the Heads of State and Government called for the development of a Protocol on Women in Trade to address the needs of women engaged in cross border trade and to facilitate increased opportunities in trade for African women. In order to ensure that the Protocol is participatory and responsive to the needs of African women, UNDP has partnered with the AfCFTA Secretariat to host consultations across the continent, providing a platform for women to voice their needs and interests with regards to trade in the context of the AfCFTA. Through dialogue with women and other key stakeholders, the consultations seek to identify existing and potential challenges and opportunities that women face as they engage in intra-African trade.
In her welcome remarks, Resident Representative of UNDP in Botswana, Ms. Jacinta Barrins shared that Botswana is one of a select few countries in Africa requested to host such an event, a feat which she said was acknowledgement of the good work being done by women in Botswana. She further recognised the the participation of the Ministers from the two lead ministries – the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs and the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, which signaled the Government’s commitment to the advancement of women’s economic empowerment in Botswana. Ms. Barrins detailed the focus sectors for the consultations which are demonstrative of the vast opportunities available for Batswana businesswomen; Manufacturing, Agri Business, ICT, Creative Arts, Professional Services, Trade Facilitation, and the Informal Sector.
The event was officially opened by the Minister of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs, Honourable Anna Mokgethi, and the Assistant Minister for Investment, Trade and Industry, Honourable Molebatsi Molebatsi.
In her remarks, Honourable Minister, Anna Mokgethi, emphasized the importance of the informal sector, which comprises of mostly women, for Botswana’s economic growth and development. She urged the organizers to be deliberate in ensuring that the Protocol on Women in Trade would include women in the informal sector.
“May I emphasise that if nurtured with friendly regulatory framework and policies, the informal sector could boast economic growth and create the employment we critically desire. This will in the ultimate improve women’s participation in industrialisation within the African Continent”, said Hon. Mokgethi.
The Assistant Minister for Investment, Trade and industry, Hon. Molebatsi in his remarks borrowed from the Setswana idiom, Mosadi ke thari ya Sechaba, noting the value of investing in women as it often trickles down to many other beneficiaries beyond themselves, including their families, especially children and the communities they live in.
“We must use the AfCFTA to advance the empowerment of Africa’s women, one of the most important objectives of Agenda 2063. Improving women’s access to trade opportunities not only facilitates economic freedom for women, but also expands the productive capacity of countries” said Hon. Molebatsi Molebatsi.
The Assistant Minister committed to facilitate strengthening of women’s participation in the continental economy by ensuring there is greater public procurement earmarked for women-owned businesses and further committed to ensuring that there is sufficient support given to women-owned SMMEs and cooperatives in both local and regional economies. He encouraged the women in business to produce good quality goods and services to sell into the African market, whilst African governments would do their part to remove the existing challenges and barriers to trade within the continent.
The event also benefitted from a presentation by Mr. Phazha Butale, the Chief Negotiator for Botswana at the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, who provided an update on the progress of implementation of the AfCFTA agreement as well as the advantages of the agreement for Botswana. He indicated that 54 out of 55 of the African Union member states, including Botswana, have signed the agreement. The AfCFTA is set to bring together a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined GDP of 3.4 trillion US dollars. This, Mr. Butale said, will provide a potential market for Botswana to grow an export-led economy in line with the vision through attraction of Foreign Direct Investment and local investment into creating sustainable and vibrant industries in the country.
The event which was held as a hybrid workshop drew in over 120 participants from the public and private sector. Represented in the room were women from Women in Business Association (WIBA), Business Botswana, Botswana Women in Construction (BOWICO) and various women entrepreneurs. The consultations are an important element in ensuring that the process of developing the AfCFTA Women in Trade Protocol is participatory, inclusive, and responsive to the needs and priorities of women in Botswana and Africa as a whole. The event will be followed up with a validation workshop to ensure that the women’s voices have been well represented in the final report following which a Regional Women in Trade Conference will be held in Accra, Ghana, in July 2021.
For more information and media interviews, contact:
Lebogang Tlhaloso, UNDP Communications Associate - Tel: +267 363 3745; | Mobile: +267 71 686 682; Email: email@example.com
Bame Modungwa, Project Officer – SDP - Tel: +267 363 3700; | Mobile: +267 74 793 355; | Email: Bame.Modungwa@undp.org.
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