Harare – During the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) consultation on the African Continental Free Trade Area in Dakar, Senegal, last week, the European Union pledged € 74 million to support businesses.
The commitment was announced by the Secretary General of the Pan African Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (AAASME), Mr. Ebiekure Eradiri.
“I hope this information can help ignite your commitment to ensure that the AfCFTA does not fail,” Eradiri said. “Let’s build Africa, cultivate Africa and buy Africa. “
According to the World Bank, SMEs play a major role in the economies of developing countries. SMEs represent the majority of businesses in the world and contribute significantly to job creation and global economic development, accounting for around 90 percent of businesses and over 50 percent of jobs.
Formal SMEs contribute up to 40 percent of national income in emerging economies. These figures are significantly higher when informal SMEs are included.
The aim of the Dakar Forum was to provide an overview of the challenges the AfCFTA poses to MSMEs, find solutions for them and encourage them to network across the continent.
Mr. Eradiri said MSMEs should develop their skills and competences to keep pace with changing realities. In this regard, he said that AAASME intends to create entrepreneurship and technology parks across Africa to help accelerate the pace of innovation.
“MSMEs employ the most people, occupy the largest place in the contribution to the gross domestic product of countries and are a force for social, economic and political stability. The AfCFTA is a great opportunity for the growth of SMEs. The AfCFTA, which began operating on January 1, is expected to create the world’s largest free trade area with a market of over 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of over 2,500 billion dollars, ”Eradiri said.
The bloc has immense opportunities to increase intra-regional trade, improve production, promote economies of scale, create jobs, increase incomes and improve the standard of living of the African people.
In their recommendations at the end of the consultation, participants said that to harness the benefits of AfCFTA, governments should incentivize MSMEs by purchasing their goods and services while offering them tax incentives to make them more competitive.
To take advantage of Africa’s rich human assets in the AfCFTA, the needs and priorities of women and youth must also be reflected in the frameworks put in place.