In mid-June this year, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) launched a women economic empowerment initiative.
Dubbed the 50 Million African Women Speak (50MWS) project, the three-year project was funded by the African Development Bank.
The project was jointly implemented by three regional economic communities (RECs) namely COMESA, East African Community (EAC) and the Economic Community for Western African States (ECOWAS) in 36 countries with an objective to empower women entrepreneurs by providing access to financial and non-financial information necessary to grow business.
The 50MWS Project aims at contributing to the economic empowerment of women through the provision of networking platforms to access information on financial and non-financial services so that they can start, grow or scale up their businesses.
COMESA, which is coordinating the 50MWS Project, recently hired Izertis, a Spanish consulting firm to develop the 50MWS platform and the main objective of this workshop is for the implementers to clarify the scope of the platform and provide design inputs to the consulting firm.
Currently, a four-day workshop bringing together implementing agencies of, a software developing firm and representatives of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the project financiers, is currently underway in Lusaka, Zambia.
“This project comes when RECs are moving towards Digital Economic Integration, towards the full adoption of digital technologies with the objective of establishing seamless processes across the RECs Partner States to enable ease of doing business/trade and to enhance regional integration using ICT as a tool,” said COMESA Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Dr. Kipyego Cheluget, at the opening of the workshop.
According to Ms. Mary Makoffu, EAC Director of Social Sectors and head of the EAC delegation to the workshop, said in her opening remarks that the project was being implemented at a time when the EAC Partners States were rolling out instruments of Digital Trade to minimize physical barriers to trade in the region.
Amb. Kipyego urged the participants to volunteer ideas that would assist the consulting firm to create user-friendly platforms that could easily be accessed by women entrepreneurs.