EAC recognizes trade as an engine for economic growth and development. However, participation of EAC in intra-African trade has not been high in years past. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) promises to boost trade and increase EAC export to African countries outside the region.

With SMEs, particularly women, being given a chance to participate in trade under AfCFTA, there are huge opportunities for women-owned businesses if their participation is properly organized. As part of the EAC initiatives to enhance SMEs and women participation in AfCFTA, GIZ is currently supporting non-state actors in two key projects on AfCFTA which will strengthen commitments among EAC Partner States to incorporate SMEs and gender considerations in the implementation of national trade policies.

The main activities of the projects will be to conduct a gender analysis of regional and national trade policies, to create awareness and build capacity of women, and to provide policy advocacy for addressing structural barriers to women’s cross-border trade. The initiatives will facilitate SMEs and women in the EAC to advance their participation in AfCFTA.

“Our aim is to ensure that women in the EAC are fully equipped and are capable of accessing and exploiting the numerous opportunities and benefits that accrue from the Continental Free Trade Area,” highlights EAC Deputy Secretary General Christophe Bazivamo.