Climate Change, population growth and an ongoing unemployment crisis are just a few challenges many African countries face. However, all is not lost – the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can be a catalyst for not just having the potential of becoming the largest free trade area in the world but also a supporter of sustainable economic growth and the creation of green jobs. To address these challenges and harness the potential of the AfCFTA, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung jointly organized a three-day conference from the 11th to the 13th of August in Ho with the University of Environment and Sustainable Development. The conference was themed; The African Continental Free Trade Area as Enabler of Green Jobs Creation: A Policy Perspective, which offered room for fruitful debates and discussions and brought together a wide range of academia, politics, trade unions and civil society.
The conference covered various topics and focused on the potential of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the AfCFTA as an enabler of investment opportunities, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in Ghana, and finally, the AfCFTA as a facilitator of Green Job Creation. The potential of SMEs for economic growth in Africa is enormous. Alone in Ghana, around 70% of the GDP is harnessed in SMEs, and 80% is employed in the sector. Nonetheless, SMEs are still unique in AfCFTA and especially face many challenges in cross-border trade. Consequently, developing sufficient investment strategies and formalization is vital for further improvement.
Apart from AfCFTA's potential to support SMEs, the Secretariat also plays a crucial role in putting a move forward on lowering greenhouse gas emissions by supporting green jobs and green businesses. The conference highlighted the potential of clean technologies, renewable energies and organic farming with the support of AfCFTA. Further, it became clear that all stakeholders' indigenous knowledge and community-based engagement can reinforce the implementation of green jobs. Climate literacy, adopting international best practices and skills development is key. Moreover, the conference stressed that creating green jobs needs to be inclusive. Women, men, the poor, and those in the city and the rural area need to benefit from this transition equally to improve the welfare of every employee. Thus, policy development and implementation in technical and vocational training support a transition significantly.
Summary points for policy recommendations: