Business Development World

YouLead Summit 2022 spotlights young leaders’ role in advancing the AfCFTA

Participants at YouLead Summit 2022

The 6th edition of the YouLead Summit highlighted the importance of empowering African young entrepreneurs and support them in accessing opportunities generated by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Under the theme “Digital Access & the Future of Work”, the five-day Summit is organized by YouLead Africa and supported by the International Trade Centre (ITC), East African Community (EAC), East Africa Business Council (EABC), act!onaid Denmark, the Independent Continental Youth Advisory Council on the AfCFTA, and others. The Summit brings together young leaders from across the African continent to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and create change.

The second day of the YouLead Summit hosted the African Under 40 Business Leaders Forum. During the Forum, speakers highlighted the role of the AfCFTA for economic development in Africa, and especially for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises whose trade opportunities would be increased once the agreement is fully implemented.

ITC’s Youth Entrepreneur (YE!) Advisor to Cameroon, Mechi Amaah, also the founder of Black and Natural Cosmetics, shared her learnings from the Ye! Bootcamp that took place on the sidelines of the YouLead Summit. She highlighted the critical role that young people can play to sensitize their peers on the AfCFTA and stressed the urgent need to raise awareness, particularly in rural areas and among marginalized communities.

Since 2017, the YouLead Summit is convened annually by the East African Community and MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation through their youth engagement initiatives. This year’s edition also included the launch of the East African Youth Manifesto and a presentation of the EAC Youth Leadership Fellowship.

Senior officials in attendance included H.E. Fatoumata Tambajang, former Vice-President of the Gambia; H.E Jakaya Kikwete, former President of the Republic of Tanzania and Patron of YouLead; H.E Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the Republic of Tanzania; Angelina Ngalula, Board Chairperson of the East African Business Council; Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC); as well as Hon. Peter Mathuki, Secretary-General of the East African Community.


‘Africa’s well-known young demographic dividend is the continent’s biggest resource – a treasure chest of innovative solutions to harnessing the full potential of the AfCFTA. It is in the youths’ hands to generate ideas and solutions on how to deliver on the trade and industrialization aspirations contained in the AU Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want.’

Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, International Trade Centre

‘To ensure the inclusive and sustainable advancement of the AfCFTA, youth must be involved in local and national economic development committees. A particular focus needs to be placed on the sectors where youth are driving impact and growth, such as the creative industries.’

Mie Vedel Jorgensen, on behalf of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

‘The AfCFTA will enable African countries to trade raw materials and goods seamlessly– overcoming the need to rely on international imports by having access to improved national infrastructure.’

Yafika Chitanda, representing the AfCFTA Secretariat

About Youth and Trade, International Trade Centre

ITC’s Youth and trade | ITC ( programme promotes youth entrepreneurship and employability to enhance sustainable economic growth and reduce youth unemployment. The programme works with young people to develop their business and employability skills, which in turn improves their access to quality jobs with decent work conditions and increases their income.

About One Trade Africa, International Trade Centre

One Trade Africa works to enable, empower and enhance African micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), women and youth entrepreneurs to access transformative business opportunities created by the African Continental Free Trade Area. The programme embraces a three-pronged delivery model which supports African MSMEs to compete, connect and change at the enterprise, business ecosystem and policy levels. ITC provides African MSMEs with training, advice and coaching to build capacities, connect to new and more lucrative markets, and create jobs

About the International Trade Centre

The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries to become more competitive in global markets – thus contributing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For more information, visit

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende