UNECA boss says empowering women, youths critical to Africa’s transformation agenda
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has said that empowering women and youths was vital to value creation and promotion of economic growth in Africa.
Mrs Ngone Diop, Sub-Regional Director, West Africa Office, UNECA, stated this in Lagos, in her presentation at the ongoing West Africa Business Forum under the theme: “Empowering women and youths to spur Africa’s transformation agenda.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Diop spoke on the topic: “Setting the context: why empowering women and the youth matters to Africa’s structural transformation agenda.”
Diop stressed that enabling African women and youths would advance their prospects for all and build more resilient economies, to improve the quality of life for their entire populations.
She added that an enhanced focus on women and youths would be a win-win strategy for the West African sub-region as it would generate competitive real returns for all over the long term.
Diop noted that female entrepreneurs’ contribution to the Africa’s economic growth was about 13 per cent of the continent’s Gross Domestic Product.
“Female entrepreneurs make significant contributions to economic growth and to poverty reduction in Africa, with contributions of between $250 billion dollars to $300 billion dollars,” she said.
The UNECA sub-regional director urged African leaders to ensure training and access to digital technology for women and youths.
“Support job creation; support women and youths’ leadership; and women and youth entrepreneurs social networks.
“Create opportunities in technology, innovation, the private sector, and ensure economic empowerment through education, training and peer-to-peer learning.
“Also, financial empowerment through improved and inclusive financial and microfinance policies and accelerate the financial inclusion of women by promoting the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063.
“Advancing women’s and youth’s potentials boost prospects for all to improve the quality of life for their entire populations,” she said.
She further added UN estimates which had shown that the opportunities, through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), would result in total welfare gains of $16 billion to $24 billion dollars in productive jobs for women and youth.
“Significant gains in all major sectors (agriculture and food, industry, energy, and mining), which could increase in value by 15 to 25 per cent, based on ECA 2017 estimates.
“The national strategies for AfCFTA implementation will provide an appropriate framework for each country to mainstream women and youth into these strategies and ensure that they are able to leverage the transformative potential of trade expansion under the AfCFTA”, Diop added.
She further noted that it was imperative to create business linkages and an environment supportive of growth and sustainability of the youths and women’s businesses like the ease of access to information, capital and markets.
There should be more adequate skills essential for the youth and women to add value to West Africa’s enormous resources endowments, she added.