The YouLead Summit is East Africa’s most diverse forum bringing youth leaders together with government, private sector and other stakeholders to craft responses to the region’s rapidly growing youth population as well as their challenges and opportunities within the EAC region. The theme of this year’s summit which convened in Arusha and online from 8 to 12 November – “The future of Africa: Creating jobs, feeding and housing the world’s youngest continent”.

The summit is jointly organized annually by the East African Community Secretariat (EACS) and the Training Centre for Development Cooperation (MS TCDC) alongside other partners in line with the provisions of the EAC Youth Policy. This year’s summit offered Africa’s largest hybrid convening experience by bringing physical audience together in Arusha and connecting them with participants from different African capitals via a virtual convening platform.

The Pan-African e-Commerce project (PeCI) of EAC and GIZ was privileged to participate in the summit, hosting a workshop titled “Let’s Talk e-Commerce – Unlocking Youth Potential”. Youth groups are disproportionately affected by trade policies. To ensure inclusive development, e-Commerce provides an avenue through which youth can create employment and tap into the 26-billion-dollar industry – this is where PeCI comes in. The workshop highlighted the challenges and opportunities that exist for youth and demonstrated how such challenges are being addressed in the EAC to ensure a more inclusive development of e-Commerce.

“The pandemic has bolstered the worldwide e-Commerce industry. As a result, now is the moment for young people to use the e-Commerce platforms to sell their products in and outside the EAC region,” noted Davis Mugira, CEO of Spiderbit, an e-Commerce platform that connects farmers to buyers and service providers.

Despite the accelerating growth of the industry and the opportunities it presents to SMEs and youth, there are various challenges presented that limit the expected growth in the industry, with trust being the major setback. GIZ’s PeCI Advisor, Jennifer Chiku emphasized that trust was a currency on its own in the uptake of e-Commerce for youth-led SMEs. “To succeed in the sector, young individuals should incorporate credibility, reliability, and transparency.”

Further, the panelists addressed how the youth and SMEs can build their capacities on e-Commerce and cross-border trade in various goods and services that they offer. Beatrice Duker, CEO of Organic Hair Brand, stated, “It is of vital importance that businesses should adapt to this new era to ensure that no one is left behind.”

Find more information on PeCI here.

Find more information on the YouLead here.

©GIZ_Mali Lazell