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There’s been a lot of discussion about trade in Africa with the 10th Ministerial Conference coming to Kenya in December. But what has not been emphasized enough is that the outcomes of the conference will have a significant impact on people from all walks of life. This includes the youth, who not only make up a large proportion of Africa’s population – approximately 70% of the sub-Saharan population is under 30 - but who are the driving force behind Africa’s development.  

What’s in it for the Youth?

Beyond all the jargon (non-tariff barriers, multilateralism etc.) and the heavy laden trade talk, the youth should not by any means feel left out, depending on how they position themselves they stand to benefit as well. 

Whether you are an entrepreneur, farmer, developer or designer- expanding your business through the exportation of your product or service can drive up sales, increase revenue and help you realize your personal goals and targets. The size of Africa’s middle class is estimated to be 313 million people, which means there is a market for your product if favourable trade regulations are in set in place. This is where MC10 comes in: the conference is an important meeting where critical decisions are made in order to ensure there is fair trade amongst all WTO member countries, regardless of their wealth or influence.

For young leaders of Africa who want to participate in job creation, increased trade is likely to provide more jobs for the youth in all sectors.  Indeed, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) “trade plays a prominent role in job creation and poverty alleviation.” 

All the young farmers out there will be happy to note that agriculture is a key issue on the MC10 agenda. Following the decisions made in the last ministerial conference in Bali 2013, WTO members will be looking at ways to ensure that domestic production is supported, as well as how goods can penetrate new markets. This means they will be looking for solutions in order to make it easier for you to grow and export crops to other countries.

Whilst it is tied into agriculture, cotton is a separate issue that will be discussed at the conference. Cotton production in Kenya is slowly being revived, and is especially important for those involved in the booming local fashion and textile industry. At MC10, the issue of leveling the playing field (that is making sure smaller countries that produce cotton are supported) and negotiating export competition (ensuring that cheap imported goods are not undercutting local goods) are two key areas that delegates will look into.

These are just a few of the opportunities available to the youth at the 10th Ministerial Conference that will take place on the 15th-18th of December 2015 at Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi.