Greening small businesses in Africa
WTO Public Forum experts discuss greening micro, small and medium enterprises to reap the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area
In a session organized by the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the International Trade Center (ITC) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum 2022 on September 27, 2022, experts urged the private sector to seize the opportunities offered by the green transition in Africa.
The panel discussion titled “MSMEs: Key to achieving sustainable gains under the AfCFTA”, moderated by Melaku Desta, Coordinator of the African Trade Policy Center at ECA, explored sustainable initiatives aimed at mainstreaming green solutions in African small businesses, and attracted more than 100 netizens and face-to-face participants.
Panelists also highlighted the sustainable gains to be made from green trade alongside the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and called on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to anticipate challenges as businesses seek to integrate green solutions.
In his opening speech, Dorothy Tembo, ITC Deputy Executive Director highlighted ITC’s Green2Compete initiative, which helps small businesses improve their competitiveness by integrating green production techniques for sustainable trade.
ITC is also working closely with the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) to increase transparency on private sustainability standards and plans to expand its work with market partners to achieve harmonization of these environmental standards. , making them more accessible to small businesses. In his words, Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary General of ARSOhighlighted the need to prioritize harmonization of standards to achieve sustainability.
Lately, the sustainability and resilience of value chains have taken on greater importance due to the disruptions induced by Covid-19 and the demand for more sustainable production and trade has increased. This was underlined by Robert Hamwey, Head of Economic Affairs at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Regarding capacity building of MSMEs to improve their competitiveness in national, regional and global markets, Annalisa Primi, Head of Economic Transformation and Development at the OECD Development Centerhighlighted the need to reform policies that divide the informal and formal sectors, to enable the poor to participate in markets and engage in higher value-added trade activities.
Outlining the importance of increased investment in Africa’s green energy transition, Maximiliano Mendez-Parra, Senior Researcher at ODI affirmed the role the AfCFTA can play in securing investment in green energy and technology.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of the International Trade Centre.
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