Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) today celebrates Africa Day, which commemorates the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU) which was created on 25 May 1963.
The theme for this year is “Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent”, which seeks to harness political support in the eradication of malnutrition amongst children on the African continent. Whilst the African continent has a significant amount of arable land, at 874 million hectares, well north of 65 percent of this is of poor soil fertility and requires integrated land and water management practices in order to ensure that the over 70 million small holder farmers in Sub Saharan Africa do not face decline in productivity, leading to greater food insecurity.
Whilst the foregoing statistics make grim reading, the enactment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTFA) was designed to address some of these challenges and increase intra continental trade, whilst eliminating tariffs and other barriers.
At present, Africa trades more with continents such as Europe and Asia more than it do amongst its fellow 54 nations. It is indeed a tragedy that in order for one to travel to countries such as Senegal from Southern Africa, there are no direct flights, and one is likely to have to endure two stopovers. It is of critical importance for the AU to interrogate how best to eliminate these nontariff barriers that hinder the greater socio-economic integration goal of the continent that the founding fathers had in 1963.
To us as VISET, we look to AFCTFA to ease the long-practiced profession of cross border trading as tariffs are removed and customs protocols synchronised so as to eliminate the abuse and exploitation of female informal traders who make up over 70 percent on the continent.
Our organisation has made inroads in establishing chapters not only in Southern Africa but has already collaborative partnerships in Uganda and Sudan with a view to collectively advocate for improved working conditions and recognition for Informal Economy actors at continental level.
In wishing the rest of Africa a happy commemoration, we implore our leaders to double their efforts in ensuring the eradication of hunger and malnutrition through collaborative partnerships and improved trade.