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African Trade Observatory to Spur Small Business Participation in the African Free Trade Area

More than 100 firms and public agencies in Eswatini and Zimbabwe trained on the first African trade portal to unlock the continent’s trade opportunities.

The COMESA Business Council (CBC), in collaboration with the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the COMESA Secretariat’s Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme (RECAMP), funded by the11th European Development Fund, partnered with Business Eswatini and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce to facilitate the trainings, 3rd – 5th and 8th – 10th May respectively.

The African Trade Observatory 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. It provides integrated and reliable trade intelligence on international market performance and opportunities as well as market access conditions.

“This capacity building initiative is vital and timely as COMESA Member States continue to position themselves for commercially meaningful trade under the AfCFTA,” said COMESA Business Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Teddy Soobramanien ahead of the workshops, who went on to note that the availability of good quality data is critical for business success in the ever evolving regional and global economic landscape.

“Small and medium-sized enterprises contribute over 70% to the region’s economic growth; therefore, galvanizing 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,” he stated.

To date, the trainings have been carried out in Zambia, Malawi, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Kingdom of Eswatini, and Zimbabwe, with four more Member States, including Kenya, Seychelles, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo earmarked for the third and fourth quarters of the year.

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