Experts at the WTO Public Forum discuss greening micro, small and medium-sized 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 Trade Center International (ITC) as part of the 2022 World Trade Organization (WTO) Public Forum on September 27, 2022, experts urged the private sector to seize the opportunities brought by the green transition in Africa.
The panel discussion titled “MSMEs: The Key to Achieving Sustainable Profits under the AfCFTA“, moderated by Melaku Desta, Coordinator of ECA‘s Africa Center for Trade Policy, explored sustainable initiatives to embed green solutions in Africa’s small businesses and attracted over 100 online and face-to-face participants.
Panelists also underscored the sustainable gains that can be reaped from green trade in conjunction with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and called on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to anticipate challenges as companies seek to integrate green solutions.
In her opening remarks, Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Executive Director of ITC, 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 Standards Organization (ARSO) to increase the transparency of private sustainability standards and has plans to scale up its work with market partners to achieve harmonization of these environmental standards, making them more accessible to small businesses.
In her remarks, Hermogène Nsengimana, Secretary General of ARSO, emphasized the need to prioritize the harmonization of standards to achieve sustainability.
Lately, the sustainability and resilience of value chains have become more important due to the disruptions induced by COVID-19 and the demand for more sustainable production and trade has increased.
On strengthening the capacities of MSMEs to improve their competitiveness in national, regional and global markets, Annalisa Primi, Head of Economic Transformation and Development at the OECD Development Centre, underscored the need to reform policies that divide sectors informal and formal, in order to enable the poor to participate in markets and engage in higher value-added business activities.
Describing the importance of increased investment in Africa’s green energy transition, Maximiliano Méndez-Parra, Principal Fellow at ODI, affirmed the role the AfCFTA can play in securing investment in green energy and technology.