Trade and Industry Minister Alan Kyerematen has reiterated government’s commitment to nurturing and developing the capacities of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the areas of profiling, matchmaking and linkage to supply chains of large enterprises in order to be major players in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
Speaking at the West Africa Connect (WAC) 2022 in Accra through Dr. John-Hawkins Asiedu, the technical advisor at the Trade and Industry Ministry last Tuesday, Mr. Kyerematen said as main actors in the country’s business space, the MSMEs sector’s importance cannot be overemphasised in the economic development of Ghana and the West Africa sub-region.
He said about 70 percent of all industrial establishments in the country are Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises – providing over 85 percent of manufacturing jobs and contributing to 70 percent of GDP.
That notwithstanding, the sector is confronted with numerous problems which constrain the competitiveness and overall growth of MSMEs in the country; prompting government to put in place measures to ensure the competitiveness of players across the country.
West Africa Connect apt for growth of the sector
Touching on this year’s edition of the WAC, the minister commended organisers of the event for connecting MSMEs across the sub-region within the areas of cassava and mango production and Information Communication Technology (ICT) value chains as a promotion tool to facilitate access to markets, as well as to discuss opportunities and conclude on potential businesses with partners.
Entreating all the participating MSMEs in this year’s WAC to take full advantages of opportunities being presented by the event, Mr. Kyerematen pledged government’s commitment to fully accelerating the country’s MSME sector by collaborating with key stakeholders in the space.
“I would like to encourage the ECOWAS Trade Network and private sector actors – especially representatives of the regional business associations – to take ownership of this regional initiative to boost intra African trade and international trade opportunities to promote MSMEs of the region and support sustainable development,” he stated.
Hybrid matchmaking: mango, cassava and ICT suppliers meet buyers
The West Africa Connect brought industry representatives from the mango, cassava and ICT service sectors together in a hybrid format in Accra, Ghana. With financial support from the European Union (EU), the event connected more than 160 suppliers from 16 West African countries, with more than 20 buyers from West Africa and other regions.
During the event, which was open to many international visitors, West African suppliers showcased their products and attendees also learnt more about the valuable solutions the West African ICT services sector offers.
The event further welcomed high-level representatives from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission; West African Monetary and Economic Union (UEMOA) Commission; and the ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisation (TPO) Network.
The acting Director of Trade-ECOWAS Commission, Kolawole Sofola, said the event’s main objective was to connect suppliers from the region with buyers inside and outside the region, in order to promote access to market opportunities and linkages with global value chains.
“For this purpose, an open and competitive call for applications was launched to secure the participation of targetted enterprises in the region. I would like to seize this opportunity to thank all buyers and enterprises from around the world for taking the time to attend this event and connecting with our local firms. These local firms have untapped potential, and this event will allow them to demonstrate the quality of their products and services – which we believe will lead to promising businesses and partnerships during these B2B sessions,” he stated.
On his part, Ruben Poolchund, Chief office for Africa, International Trade Centres (ITC), expressed ITC’s commitment to playing its role in the promotion of trade through strengthening MSMEs’ competitiveness.
“We reiterate our commitment to support the ECOWAS Agenda on trade and private sector development, and we will continue to foster our collaboration with UNIDO, our sister agency, and with all UN partners in view of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he stated.
West Africa Connect is implemented as part of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP). The WACOMP is funded by the European Union and aims to strengthen West Africa region’s competitiveness and enhance the integration of ECOWAS member-states and Mauritania into the regional and international trading system. The WACOMP is led by the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with UEMOA Commission, and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).