The business of the World Trade Organization is largely conducted through the Ministerial Conference, a consortium held in every two years. This year, the conference will take place in Nairobi, Kenya, on the 15th -18th December 2015. As a subtle teaser to the forthcoming convention, Strathmore Institute of Public Policy and Governance (SIPPG) and a youth allegiance group, Siasa Place, hosted the WTO youth discourse, on the 10th December, 2015.
The WTO, Youth Discourse, drew youth from various groupings and institutions, eager to discuss pertinent concerns on youth engagement with the WTO.
Dr. Robert Mudida, Director SIPPG brought to light the importance of youth involvement in public policy, with special attention to international trading policies. This he mentioned is a great encouragement to the country’s economic growth, depicted by the ever growing interest of young people in taking part in trade relations. “International trade has been a pivotal topic in enhancing trading relations worldwide, especially in developing countries. It is very interesting to see the youth take an interest in global conversations shaping public policy and worldwide trade.”
The discussions were segmented into three panel sessions, with each woven upon the theme: Redefining Youth Engagement with the WTO.
The first panel session put WTO into context, through engaging discussions on History, WTO and contemporary issues; food security and Trade, and lastly, the opportunities for the African youth. The topics were tackled by a panelist of two comprising of Shigoli Protus, a student of Economics from University of Nairobi, and Duncan Lumwamu, Senior Investment Analysts, Cytonn Investments, under the moderation of Waithera Githo.
Resulting from the great economic depression after world war two, diplomats held negotiations in an attempt to ease the economies. The agenda setting was aimed at the collective removal of non- trading tariffs, with the developing countries forming the WTO in 1st January, 1995. This was done with the aim of raising the standards of living for its members, ensuring full employment, large and steadily growing volume of real income and effective demand, expanding the production of and trade in goods and services, while allowing for the optimal use of the world’s resources and seeks to both protect and preserve the environment and to enhance the means for doing so in a manner consistent with Members respective needs and concerns at different levels of economic development.
Discussions took interesting digressions, with the audience questioning Africa’s viability to trade with itself. “There is a lot of productivity in Africa. We are the bedrock of minerals and all agricultural produce. The question is how we can interplay. We need to make each African country trade within its self, and consequently, growing our trading blocks, making them robust. We must place Africa strategically, to make use of its resources as the next frontier,” remarked, Mr. Lumwamu.
“Regional trading blocs have been pivotal in lobbing for better negotiating power. The east African community trading blocs have seen progress; however, the growth has not been as rapid. Private sector especially in the entrepreneurial space should be pushed along advocacy lanes, in order to enhance its strength. A public policy framework ran by the private sector, is worth consideration, “added Lumwamu.
The moderator poised insights to the audience, making them cognisant of the bulging youth population growth, against the labor market “in the next ten years, there will be110 Million youth transitioning into the labour market. By 2035, the labor force in Africa will be larger than that of China, and by 2050, it will be larger than that of India.” The role of entrepreneurship in absorbing the youth into the labour market was discussed at length, with contributions from the audience shaping the conversations.
“If you are not on the table, your issues are not on the table. You are probably on the menu,” told the moderator, piquing the audience’s thoughts. She encouraged the youth to take part in the MC10 Policy Meza, Siasa Place conventions, and many more such like avenues, appropriate to see their views reflected into the general discussion. “The social economic revolution must be fought by the youth,” added Waithera Githo, moderator of the session.
The second session, made of a panel of three; Crystal Simeoni, Tax Justice Network Africa on illicit Financial Flows, Sarah Ombija, Lecturer, Strathmore Law School on Fair trade and Quintah Dondongo on the correlation between security and Trade, all under the moderation of Benji Ndolo, One Kenya Group.
Taxes are the most stable and reliable source of domestic revenue available to countries. Without adequate domestic resources, African nations are dependent on borrowing and on donations.
The Fourth joint Annual Meeting of AU/EAC conference of Ministries of Finance, Planning and economic development adopted Resolution L8 mandating the establishment of a high Level Panel (HLP) on illicit financial flows chaired by Thambo Mbeki.
The panel established that the continent loses at least 50 billion dollar each year through Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs). As a recommendation, commercial routes of IFFs need much closer monitoring. IFFs from Sub Saharan Africa average 6.1% of its annual GDP, where as the global average stands at 4%.
The third and final session, addressed the participation of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES) in regional and global markets, with Ms. Tania Ngima, Consultant Strategy addressing the effects of climate change on trade in Africa, Emmy Rono, Strathmore Law School, on Global free trade Vs Protectionism, and Dr. Mwiti, University of Nairobi, on The role of academia in promoting trade.