The Libyan Women in Business Committee (WIBC) of the Tripoli Chamber of Commerce, and the COMESA Federation of National Associations of Businesswomen Libya Branch (COMFWB) organized a training workshop on the African Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) and the SOKOKUU e-commerce platform yesterday at the Bab Al Bahar hotel in central Tripoli.
Several businesswomen and owners of small and micro enterprises, headed by Ibtisam Hussein Bin Amer, Head of WIBC and Head of the COMESA Businesswomen’s Federation, Libya Branch, attended the awareness and training workshop and its activities on AFCFTA and SOKOKUU.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA)
AFCFTA came about in implementation of the outcomes of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union during its 18th session held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2012 regarding the creation of a framework, road map and structure to accelerate the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).
The concept of AFCFTA based on the aspirations set out in the 2063 Agenda to create a commercial market with the free and unimpeded movement of people, capital, goods and services, the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, was signed in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.
A market of 1.2 billion people
The State of Libya is one of the signatories to this agreement, which entered into force as of January 1, 2021. The population of this region has reached 1.2 billion people, making it the largest market and the largest trade area in the world – after the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The SOKOKUU e-commerce platform
The SOKOKUU e-commerce platform was launched in July 2020 in Addis Ababa on August 14, 2020. It was established in implementation of initiatives to build digital capacity in the African member states of the African Union. This platform is designed to be an empowering tool for small and medium-sized companies for all women and youth to access regional, continental and global markets. The platform aims to enter the world of electronic commerce and support the participation of the private sector.
Sokoko, which means unity in Swahili, is a platform for public and private sector actors to collectively promote ‘Made in Africa’ products and services across the continent and beyond.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and on the side-lines of the 2nd Annual Regional Trade Fair (COMFWB) held on 22-24 September 2021 in Lusaka, Zambia, the Commission of the African Union, like most governmental organizations around the world, moved most of its activities online demonstrating that that the launch of (Sokokuu) exemplifies the deep commitment of the African Union to the principles and ideals of African unity.
SOKOKUU went live on January 1, 2021, which is the historic start of trading in the African Continental Free Trade Area and is the number one online market in Africa.
Its aims are:
1- Adopting e-commerce.
2- Engaging SMEs in Sokokuu to ensure that women and youth are not left behind in the digital economy of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
3- Sokokuu and the African Continental Free Trade Zone will open up intra-African trade to hundreds of small and medium businesses across the continent.
4- It allows COMESA women in business to establish a strong partnership with the e-commerce group, thus enhancing the viability of e-commerce across the continent.