There is enormous potential for African countries to increase their trade both with the global market and with each other. Regional trade in Africa can play a vital role in diversifying economies away from raw commodities, in delivering food and energy security, in generating jobs for the increasing numbers of young people, in alleviating poverty and delivering shared prosperity.
Women make a major contribution to trade in most African countries through their involvement in the production of tradable goods, as cross-border traders and as managers and owners of firms involved in trade. However, their contribution is much less than it could be as a result of various constraints that give rise to specific non-tariff barriers that impinge particularly heavily on the trade activities of women and women-owned enterprises. These barriers often push women traders and producers into the informal economy where lack of access to finance, information and networks undermines their capacity to grow and develop their business.
This new book from the World Bank brings together a series of papers that look at the ways that women participate in trade in Africa, the constraints they face and their impact. It seeks to extend the rather small amount of analytical work that has been devoted to this issue and seeks to encourage researchers, especially in Africa, to look more carefully at the specific challenges faced by women in trade.
The analysis in the volume leads to a set of key messages for policy makers to facilitate the participation of women in trade and in so doing assist Africa in achieving its trade potential. In particular, it emphasizes that governments need to do more to: (i) recognize the role that women play in trade and ensure this is communicated to officials at all levels; (ii) ensure that the rules and regulations governing trade are clear, transparent and widely available at the border, this is especially important for small traders working with very limited margins, the majority of whom are women working in the informal sector; (iii) simplify trade documents and regulatory requirements which will benefit women in trade given time and mobility constraints as a result of household responsibilities (iv) design interventions to facilitate trade in ways that ensure women benefit; (v) help women address the risks that they face in their trade-related activities given that they are typically more risk averse than men and respond to risk in different ways.
Access the World Bank book here
A new World Bank book examines the key role women play in trade in Africa while highlighting how the continent’s potential in trade can be undermined by the particular constraints women face. It suggests a number of simple steps for policy makers to take in facilitating the participation of women in trade and in doing so assisting Africa to achieve its full trading potential.