Invest in Africa (IIA) is positioning Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) under its programmes, to enable them explore opportunities that come with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
The AfCFTA becomes operational on 1st June 2020 and is expected to create the world’s largest free trade Zone with over 1billion consumers, a potential $3 trillion economy and zero tariffs on goods traded across countries.
The Country Director of IIA, Clarence Nartey remarked that IIA is investing to adequately prepare its SMEs to harness the market opportunities this agreement will provide. To start with he indicated that there is still work to be done to educate /sensitise the private sector on both the opportunities and threats that this agreement comes with and work to develop a competitive AfCFTA strategy.
From an IIA perspective, the good news is that some of its suppliers are already engaged in Pan-African trade – equivalent to c.15% of IIA’s active supplier pool. However this is not enough and the organisation is committed to increasing this to 40% in a few years.
This will be done through rolling out its AfDB- sponsored flagship Business Linkage Programme – which focuses on integrating SMEs into supply chains of MNC’s & Large Local organisations by improving their competitiveness and building their long-term capacity,- across 11 countres.
Leveraging ICT in the form of IIA’s Digital infrastructure – an online marketplace that connects 50 Buyers and 5500 suppliers across Africa- to accelerate cross-border and regional value chain integration and rapidly scaling-up SMEs through its “Home Grown Buyer project” all of which should position IIA’s SMEs to be regionally competitive.
Mr. Nartey stated this at the 3rd IIA SME Excellence Awards held in Accra today. The Awards Scheme honours indigenous businesses who have demonstrated entrepreneurial excellence and developed the capacity to participate in supply chains of large local and international companies. This year’s awards ceremony was under the theme; “Preparing Local Businesses for Regional Market Opportunities #AfCFTA ready”.
Nine SMEs were awarded for excelling in their respective categories. They are; Young Entrepreneur of the year- BTL Africa Marketing Limited, Sustainable Business of the Year- Jekora Ventures, Business Transformation– Aidec Holdings Limited, Business Linkage- Lightingale Limited,Business Technology Growth– Consolidated Shipping Agencies Limited, Business Innovation of the Year- Agriaccess Ghana Limited, Mentorship Recognition- Agriaccess Ghana Limited and Scale-Up Business of the Year – Western Premium Company Limited. The IIA Star Award for Excellence was awarded to Joissam Ghana Limited.
The Executive Chairman of AB & David Africa David Ofosu Dorte who delivered the keynote address, underscored the need for SMEs to enhance their competitiveness by upgrading the standards of their products and expanding production capacity in order to maximize the benefits from AfCFTA.
The Country Manager of African Development Bank Group (AfDB) Sebastian Okeke, was the Guest Speaker. He expressed the AfDB’s commitment to continue its partnership with IIA through the Fund for Africa Private Sector Assistance (FAPA), to support the growth of Ghanaian SMEs and promote local content.
Mr. Okeke said through this partnership, some SMEs in the agricultural, oil and gas, financial services and telecommunication sectors among others, have been supported with access to skills, market and finance. “The business skills of more than 300 SMEs have been enhancedand over $2 million worth of credit has been secured for them through IIA’s partner banks”, he noted.
The event was attended by other IIA’s partners- Tullow Ghana, Modec Production Services, Ghana JV, EY, AB & David, GCB, Barclays Ghana , MTN Business , Ecobank Ghana, GGBL, Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC)and Multi-Media Limited.