Inadequate finance and information are among the leading non-tariff barriers (NTBs) facing African businesswomen and may undermine the success of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), this is according to an advocate for businesswomen on the continent.
Speaking during a webinar on the Trade Easier platform, a mechanism for reporting, monitoring and eliminating NTBs under AfCFTA, the executive director of the Pan African Business Women’s Association (Pabwa), Yavi Madurai, said the problem of gender inequality, corruption, and lack of trust between women and border officials were some of the barriers.
“Access to finance is the biggest challenge to women in business in Africa,” she said, adding African financial institutions had not been friendly in lending to small and micro-scale businesses.
African Union customs expert Willie Shumba said the platform would help resolve NTBs that will surface as trading begins under AfCFTA, especially the long delays at land borders that disproportionately hurt majority female traders.
But for the scheme to be effective, it must ensure speedy response to complaints of the traders, said Jacob Makambwe, Secretary General of the Southern Africa Cross Border Traders Association.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) African countries could gain $20 billion each year by tackling NTBs – much more than the $3.6 billion they could gain by eliminating tariffs.