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Title: Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 for Africa’s women traders : What more can we do?
Authors: Parshotam, Asmita
Keywords: Business
Issue Date: 2020
Source: Parshotam, A. (2020). Mitigating the impact of COVID-19 for Africa’s women traders : What more can we do? Africa Current Issues, 22. doi:10.32655/AfricaCurrentIssues.2020.22
Journal: Africa Current Issues
Abstract: Informal cross-border traders (ICBTs) play an underappreciated but economically important role in Africa. ICBTs provide goods to remote villages, while their informal networks create employment opportunities. ICBTs contribute significantly to their national economies, although policymakers often overlook this fact. Women typically comprise up to 70% of ICBTs across the continent; within Southern Africa they account for at least 80%.4 Across Africa, Women Informal Cross Border Traders (WICBTs) often form the backbone of their societies. These women may have very little formal education, but are responsible for supporting their entire households. Many endure great sacrifice and personal risk in their daily commute across borders to procure and sell goods. For example, during the Zimbabwean economic crisis in the mid-2000s, WICBTs played a critical role in procuring manufactured goods and food supplies from South Africa to re-sell in Zimbabwe. Similarly, across Eastern Africa, consumer goods and staple food commodities are the goods most commonly traded by WICBTs. Women in the informal sector play an important role in helping the region meet its food security needs. Informal traders are already marginalised, and the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to completely dismantle trading networks, cut off the main source of income for many small towns and villages, and slash the only economic lifeline sustaining many families. This Policy Brief begins with a brief overview of the challenges faced by WICBTs under ‘business as usual conditions.’ It then identifies the negative effects of COVID-19 on these traders and their communities, and the broader impacts of reduced trade for the economies of Sub-Saharan Africa. The Brief then identifies potential solutions. These focus on how governments, the private sector and other relevant actors can collaborate to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on WICBTs. Lastly, it briefly explores how regional and continental arrangements, such as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), can better incorporate and include measures to address the socio-economic needs of this vulnerable sector going forward to a post-pandemic world.
DOI: 10.32655/AfricaCurrentIssues.2020.22
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:Africa Current Issues

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