The AfCFTA paves way for the establishment of a continent-wide free trade area whose main objectives are to create a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspersons and investments, and thus pave the way for accelerating the establishment of a continental customs union. The operationalization of the AfCFTA during and post-COVID-19 is therefore a call to action to resuscitate ailing economies in Africa by increasing the level of intra-African trade and greater collaboration to drive economic growth. With intra-regional trade accounting for 17 percent of Africa’s exports compared to 59 percent in Asia and 69 percent in Europe, there is significant opportunity for young people to participate and lead the way for further economic integration in Africa.
With this backdrop, YALDA and its partners seek to host a virtual youth summit entitled, ‘Beyond COVID-19: Leveraging the Benefits of the AfCFTA to Spur Africa’s Growth’. The purpose of this virtual summit is to bring young people, industry leaders and entrepreneurs together in a serious of webinars, workshops and online interviews creating a knowledge sharing platform. This will enable and facilitate participants to share strategies around how young people can overcome the impact of COVID-19 and revitalise Africa’s growth. Additionally, this virtual summit will seek to educate young people on the AfCFTA and how to leverage it in order to thrive in this ‘new normal.’ YALDA seeks to play its part in ensuring that efforts are undertaken to resolve information asymmetries that result from the lack of knowledge transfer about how this agreement will work, impact the youth and how they may potentially benefit from it in the long-term.
The summit will mobilize the youth from across the continent to a workshop virtually that will focus on four aspects:
- Collaborating with industry leaders and businesspeople in an online forum and sharing of strategies to overcome the impact of COVID-19;
- Connect young people to financial resources that will enable them to invest in their businesses and lead the way in kick-starting economic recovery in their respective countries;
- ‘Digital Couches’ a concept used to refer to small groups that have been setup virtually that enable participants to virtually break out into groups and this will enable more dedicated feedback allowing participants to network digitally.
- Taking participants through the tenets of the AfCFTA and how it may impact them through the facilitation of roundtables
- During the summit YALDA and its partners will begin the process of cataloguing youth-run businesses across various industries, which have the potential for expansion across the continent utilising the tenets of the AfCFTA. This will enable these businesses to get the technical and financial support they needed investors and institutions to realise their growth potential.