Africa trade pact a silver bullet to youth employment in the region

President Uhuru Kenyatta with His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan during the Dubai Expo 2020.

It was an eventful month at Expo 2020 Dubai. The global event aimed at connecting minds, building a better world and shaping the future through sustainability, mobility, and opportunity.

Kenya’s week-long celebrations received a standing ovation, with the country’s cut flowers making Valentine’s Day memorable for the visitors at the Expo.

The Kenyan pavilion received over 200,000 visitors.

The high-level business meetings at the Expo and the exhibition of the world’s finest goods, services, and opportunities made us appreciate the importance of trade in solving complex development challenges like job creation.

This led to the reflection on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and what it means to job creation for our youth in the East African region.

The African market creates only three million formal jobs annually while about 10 million to 12 million African youth are entering the labour market annually, according to the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).

The reality is that youth unemployment across East Africa is high. Among the efforts that the State has exerted to handle youth unemployment include the country joining the AfCFTA that aims to create a single African market, with 55 participating countries.

Globally, AfCFTA is the largest free trade area agreement.

It aims to provide more opportunities to the youth.

For instance, Twiga Foods links farmers and vendors to modern markets, is putting effort to do the same in East Africa.

With AfCFTA in place, it would be easier for Twiga Foods to spread across the African continent and sustain an independent supply chain. This will lead to the creation of more job opportunities by the company to sustain the continental demand.

With the elimination of the above barriers, the manufacturing sector is bound to gain the most. The World Bank has predicted that through the AfCFTA, manufactured goods exports will increase by 29 per cent.

The manufacturing trade within Africa will rise by 110 per cent boosting trade, e-commerce and job creation on the continent.

The writer is a youth employment and skills development expert

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