Surveying the opportunities for youth-driven investment and leveraging on the opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area
Grace Namugambe, Program Officer, Financing for Development, Seatini Uganda highlighted the need for youth to intentionally create awareness of the measure’s government had set in place to support MSME investment.
UGANDA - The National Youth Council of Uganda in partnership with Seatini, Youth for Tax Justice Network hosted students from different tertiary institutions at Makerere University Business School on 24th April 2023 for the Youth African Continental free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Business Symposium with the theme: ‘Surveying the opportunities for youth-driven investment, leveraging opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Area.’
In her opening remarks, Jane Nalunga Executive Director Seatini Uganda emphasized the AfCFTA crucial contribution of fostering trade in order to raise productivity and spur job development. She urged the National Youth Council of Uganda to mobilize their constituency to participate and build capacity of the youth so that they can have meaningful discussions on issues that affect them. In 2018 the AfCFTA was signed and there have been different protocols laid on the table like Investment protocol, the Women and youth protocol and this is where the youth need to come in to interrogate whether they will work according to Jane Nalunga.
Another speaker Hon. Phiona Nyamutooro, the National female youth Member of parliament in the parliament of Uganda says the time is now right for the youth to exhaust their potential by positioning themselves for the opportunities created by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. She appealed to young people to invest in research and utilize the comparative advantage of Uganda in agriculture through maintaining supply and also by promoting entrepreneurship(investments).
Meanwhile, Grace Namugambe, Program Officer, Financing for Development, Seatini Uganda highlighted the need for youth to intentionally create awareness of the measure’s government had set in place to support MSME investment.
Another speaker, the Chairperson of the Independent Continental Youth Advisory Council Emolot Allan David encouraged youth to tackle the issue of finance with aggression. “It is easier to empower you when you are in a group”, he said.
Another panelist Blair Micheal Ntambi from KTA Advocates shared about the international law principles in relation to AfCFTA such as Non-Discrimination, Freedom of Association, Protection of Intellectual property, sustainable development and human rights.
Dr. Fred Muhumuza. Director MUBS Economic Forum & Senior Lecturer in Department of Economics, MUBS says the African market is targeted by foreigners. He advised MUBS Students, the youth and entrepreneurs that in order to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement, Africa needs to understand that global trade is monopolized by India, China, Singapore, Hong Kong (Asian countries) and in order to begin, you need to leverage those other guys. Dr. Muhumuza says the current status of Africa lagging behind is explained by;
-Low trade volumes within Africa cannot support the current trends of high cost.
-Africa contributes less than 3% of global trade.
-The poverty levels across Africa require strategies that start/blend in with targeting high income markets.
-The stranglehold of the high dependency burden (60% of Africa population less than 25 years) needs to be resolved gradually and not washed away.
Dr. Muhumuza says that the African Continent is stuck with a low hanging friut because of; Lack of infrastructure and other logistical support mechanisms required to amplify trade within Africa and the cost of moving cargo within Africa is much high than that for water cargo from elsewhere in the world to the same country within Africa.
However, in order to start with the low hanging fruit, Africa needs to consolidate the current exports that are targeting agricultural and manufacturing products. Dr. Muhumuza adds that the Youth and SMEs have more opportunities in agricultural value chains but need to blend into larger scale actors who create the opportunities.
He adds that firms are the real drivers of the value chains as they provide knowlegde, finances, information about markets and standards. Also, the current high debt levels of Africa limit the capacity to do the necessary infrastructure to boost trade beyond the current partners.
Dr. Fred Muhumuza. Director MUBS Economic Forum & Senior Lecturer in Department of Economics, MUBS advised the Youth and MUBS students on some of the target export services for the youth.
-Form companies that can arrange for Bed and Breakfast(B&B) using partnerships with the investors.
-The current slump in real estate industry offers and opportunity for B&B more for local/regional tourism.
-Provide online content for tourists within and outside Africa.
-Being informal is not a binding constraint if the youth can partner with the existing former actors. Thus, target everybody and not just the youth. Dr. Muhumuza said that the business of skilling the youth to start business should extend to all to sustain businesses.
Dr. Muhumuza highlighted some of the challenges:
-The political and security