The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum Conference made history this week when it called for the economic empowerment of women to be linked to the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), at its annual gathering of leading women politicians, businesswomen and entrepreneurs on the continent, 29-30 October 2019, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) in South Africa.
The initial call was made by renowned economic activist and social entrepreneur, Wendy Luhabe, from the stage on the first day, for radical action and not just conversation, leading to the adoption on Day 2, by the gathering of influential women of a resolution to be delivered to the Chair of the African Union.
Luhabe, the Founder of the Women’s Private Equity Fund and co-founder WINDE had this to say: “Women do not get invited when nations are going through transitions. We have to make a space for ourselves.”
The resolution states that: “The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), is a monumental milestone on Africa’s developmental roadmap that must be exploited to the full for intra-Africa trade. It will unleash almost unlimited opportunities, new economies of scale, and income & employment generation through greater market and economic integration.
“We are concerned that if women are not involved in finalising the details of the Agreement, women will be excluded from the opportunities that will be unleashed,” she said.
Founder and CEO of the forum, Irene Ochem, lauded the occasion as indeed momentous for women on the continent of Africa. AWIEF, which this year celebrates the 5th anniversary of its benchmarking Conference, Expo and Awards, hosted more than 60 African and global thought leaders across business and politics to share insight and thought leadership.
The conference theme this year was, Enhancing Impact: Digitalisation, Investment and Intra-African Trade. The two-day event aimed to promote and accelerate the growth of women-owned and women-led businesses for Africa’s inclusive economic growth; share entrepreneurship trends; connect and network with trailblazers from all over Africa and beyond.
AWIEF 2019 Keynote speakers included Dr Vera Songwe, United Nations Undersecretary General and Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); Arunma Oteh, Academic Scholar, Oxford University and former Vice President and Treasurer of the World Bank; Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, Chancellor Nelson Mandela University and former Vice President and Special Envoy on gender to the African Development Bank.
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