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WISTA Nigeria urges women to explore investment opportunities in AfCFTA 

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By Otunba Bright

The Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Nigeria has urged women in the maritime Industry to explore investment opportunities in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which came into full effect in January 2021.

The President of WISTA Nigeria, Mrs Eunice Ezeoke  stated this at a press briefing in Lagos to announce the association’s 2021 Business Luncheon and Magazine Launch, with the theme, “AfCFTA: Investment Opportunities for Women in Trade,” which slated for July 8, 2021 at Oriental Hotel in Lagos.

She said the the business luncheon is an annual event where series of lectures and papers are presented, followed by plenary sessions, after which the magazine is lunched.

She explained that the association could not hold the annual event last year due to emergent of COVID-19 pandemic, which affected the 2020 edition.

According to her, the annual event serves as a platform for professional capacity development for women in the maritime sector.

Speaking on the AfCFTA, she said, “our association is happy that Nigeria has keyed-in and embraced the AfCFTA and that the Federal Government is presently sensitising the various stakeholders in public and private sectors on how to take advantage of the new agreement.

“The Federal Government has been advocating women inclusion in international trade by way of encouraging exportation of agro based products and other agricultural products, women are being encouraged to take advantage and participate in the huge trade volume in the African Continent and abroad.”

He hinted that there are banks that are open to give loans to women in business, such as NEXIM, Bank of Industry (BOI) and others”

She said: “We want to encourage as many women as possible to participate in this trade opportunity. Africa is huge with a big market, the economy is growing and the raw materials are there.

She said part of the training in the 2021 business luncheon edition was to encourage women to either come as a group and form partnership to leverage on the opportunities provided by Federal Government for the women in AfCFTA.

However, she pointed out that WISTA Nigeria has taken  the various strides improving the lives of people living in coastal community, which include, provision of palliatives to stakeholders during the COVID-19 19 pandemic, fishing boats for women and among others.

She stated that the WISTA has been helping female cadets who are graduated from the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) in Oron to get sea time.

“Even though Nigeria does not have a National Carrier, there are Nigerians that own vessels and WISTA has always been pushing to get sea time on those vessels owned by Nigerians for the young women graduating from MAN Oron. We have succeeded in getting sea time for about three of them.

“The association partners Non-governmental organisations in the sensitization of secondary school students and expose them to the maritime industry with a view to some of them pursuing careers in the maritime industry,” she added.

Also speaking, Secretary of WISTA Nigeria, Mrs Chizoba Anyika disclosed that the association has entered into partnership with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on how to end the scourge of insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

According to her, in 2020 January, WISTA entered an MoU with IMO, the MoU is for WISTA International to partner with the IMO for technical assistance, adding that the association is confidence in the Deep Blue Assets that were launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos on 10th of June, as it would go a long way in combating criminality on Nigerian waterways.

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