The year 2020 will go down well in history as the world stood still due to Covid19 Pandemic. Global Economies and businesses lost trillions in Dollars with SMEs being heavily impacted. The All Africa Association for Small and Medium Enterprises (AAASME), A continental advocacy voice promoting, supporting and developing SME interest in Africa takes stock of the impact on SMEs in Africa, Economic Response Recovery Plans (ERRP), the upcoming launch of the AfCFTA and AU Agenda 2063 generally.
AAASME Secretary-General, Dr. Ebiekure Jasper Eradiri in a discussion explains his thoughts after African Union Department of Trade and Industry engagements recently viz – SME Development in Africa Webinar (22nd Dec. 2020),9th strategic Stakeholders Retreat on Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa (AIDA), AU SME Strategy and Africa Mining Vision Frameworks (Dec.16-17), Africa Industrialization Week (Nov. 16-17) and Africa Integration Day (July 7) events.
Dr. Eradiri stated that SMEs in Africa are critical ingredients to stimulate economic growth and development in Africa. Again, the AU-DTI should be commended for its humongous efforts at galvanizing, coordinating and directing Stakeholders as well as putting together Continental Frameworks like the SME Strategy, Accelerated Industrial Development in Africa, Africa Mining Vision to boost Intra-African Trade and specifically leading the drive over Agenda 2063 to achieve the Africa we want. Today, it is realized that Africa’s SMEs shall play pivotal roles in the estimated $3.4Trillion singular Market share created by the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement with a consumer base of 1.2Billion population in the Continent.
Thus unleashing opportunities and benefits for SMEs to flourish, prosper and blossom. AAASME believes in the AfCFTA as well as the Agenda 2063 and so is leading the Africa SME Caravan on AfCFTA across the 5-regions of the continent to assist in sensitization of SMEs alongside the Youths who make up over %40 of the entire population demographics in the Continent to embrace it amongst other initiatives as the Africa SME Mall(Online E-commerce Malls), Co-partnering in the establishment of an Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology Park for Innovation Driven Enterprises, Continental SME Dialogue Series – (Networking National SME Parastatals in African Nations). Whilst it is known that SMEs have challenges as Access to finance, Access to Markets, Access to Technology/Innovation, Access to Networks, Linkages, Skillset gaps, Entrepreneurial capacity building etc. We must be grateful for a holistic, inclusive and sustainable AU SME Strategy framework which can be considered the live wire to achieve Aspiration 1 in Agenda 2063, capable of Silencing the guns using SMEs and creating decent jobs /employment in Africa. However, the AU SME Strategy document should be a ” Living Document ” flexible enough for updates according to prevailing realities. It may suffice to observe that currently, Africa is more of a consumption Economy than a production Economy with its resources being extracted for industries in Europe, America’s and Asia.
AAASME expects the AfCFTA being a game Changer to revert the trend. Finally, the labour’s of our heroes shall not be in vain especially for Africa we want with the present leadership of the African Union Commission working so hard to make the difference by moving from Political Diplomacy to Economic Diplomacy thereby leading us to a new dawn as well as expanding frontiers for African Solutions to African problems by providing the opportunity for Africa’s SMEs to supply the AfCFTA and AGOA Markets which paves way for the continent’s quest at Industrialization. It is also worthy of note to appreciate the AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry H.E Ambassador Albert Muchanga who is the brainchild and architect driving the vision with a proposed AU Summit on Industrialization and economic diversification for the 4th industrial Revolution.
AAASME has the social, political and institutional capital to continuously drive the continent’s SME initiatives and represent the advocacy voice advancing their interests. Our 2021 program matrix has captured a lot already but we are desirous to assist implement AU SME Strategy as its in sync with our objectives and looking forward to a scope of cooperation to enable us activates amen on our dashboard in the new decade. In all and on a parting note, the African SMEs have proved to be Resilient, ebullient and dynamic with a survivor appetite in the wake of the New Normal. On behalf of the board and members of AAASME, here is wishing all a blessed Yuletide and glorious new year 2021 ahead.