East Africa: EAC Businesswomen Root for Digital Economy to Facilitate Trade

EAST African businesswomen are calling for the establishment of a digital economy to facilitate women doing business in the region.

The women who met here last week under the auspices of the East African Women in Business Platform (EAWiBP) observed that they still lacked skills of doing business using digital economy.

They also decried the lack of regional accreditation for Women in business and the lack trust when doing online business among business women.

"We are calling the six partner states to establish a digital platform for showcasing products and services to boost regional trade and develop an EAC business accreditation policy," outlined Ms Nancy Gitonga, the platform's regional coordinator while delivering the recommendations from women in business focal points from the six partner states at a consultative workshop on mainstreaming gender-related challenges in the EAC regional agenda.

The East African businesswomen opined that creating a database for the service providers as business centre will help them access business services across EAC partner states.

They also rooted for the formulation of a creative technological based service platform for linking farmers and traders for enhancing trade as well as establishing women in business innovation and incubation hubs within the EAC.

"There's limited digital infrastructure that can benefit women small and medium entrepreneurs there it is equally important to have such platforms," suggested the EAWIBP regional coordinator.

EAWiBP also wants the inclusion of its members in the EAC Common External Tariff(CET) review team.

Among other things, the review team will seek to breathe life into the stalled review of the EAC's (CET), a project that has delayed for over two years after the member states failed to reach a consensus on how to change the three-band tariff structure.

The EAC partner states have failed to reach a consensus in three consecutive meetings, every time going back to do "further consultations" in their home countries.

Talks on the CET dispute which largely revolves around the number of tariff bands to be included in the new taxation structure and the type of goods to be put in each new band, were scheduled to in October this year.

In the same vein, the businesswomen called for the sensitisation and awareness creation of women in business on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which came into force in May 30 this year.

The women rooted for funding and building of resources within EAWiBP for dissemination on the AfCFTA policy and capacity building for the women in business to leverage its benefits.

EAWiBP is a forum that brings together business and professional women from across the EAC.

It draws its mandate from the Treaty for the Establishment of East African Community, particularly under Chapter 25 and Articles 121 and 122 and is inspired by the vision of becoming "A Women's Centre of Excellence for Intra and Extra-EAC Trade".

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