The African Union, through its department of Economic Development, Trade and Mining, on Wednesday chose Rwanda as the continental headquarters for the African e-trade Group.
The development, announced during the annual Africa Integration Day, will, among others, facilitate the group's ambition of supporting 600,000 SMEs in Africa over the next five years.
The African e-Trade Group is a social entrepreneurship initiative with the primary aim of providing a comprehensive e-commerce platform to enhance the role of Africa's SMEs in inter and intra-African trade.
In an interview with The New Times on Wednesday, the Minister for ICT and Innovation, Paula Ingabire, said that the move is aligned with Rwanda's vision of becoming an ICT and logistics in Africa.
"With the mix of initiatives such as Smart Africa and YouthConnekt Initiative already hosted in Rwanda, we believe Ae-trade Group is another initiative to continue supporting trade across the continent," Minister Ingabire said. She disclosed that, once established, the facility's headquarters in Rwanda will host its SMEs programme, build a data centre in the country and also bring more than 5000 jobs in the next five years.
The continental data centre will facilitate Small and Medium Enterprises towards lowering hosting data prices, Ingabire highlighted.
"AeTrade Group will also create specific programmes to support Rwandan SMEs that will grow towards the increase of export of Made in Rwanda products to other African countries," she asserted.
"We encourage Rwandan SMEs to take advantage of this initiative to grow their business beyond the Rwandan borders."
Two years ago, the African Union Heads of State and Government designated July 7 as the African Integration Day.
The day serves to celebrate major achievements attained in regional and continental integration process, but also deliberate on critical lessons learned, with a view of addressing challenges faced.
A historic milestone for regional integration in Africa was recorded on 1 January 2021 with the launch of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Over the last two decades, Africa has recorded a 4.6 % growth rate on average, despite an unfavourable international economic and financial environment.
More recently however the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic plunged the continent into its first recession in 25 years.