GIS – 20 September 2018: The Role of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the industralisation process in Southern Africa was the focus today at the 24th Session of the Inter-Governmental Committee of Experts – United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) which is currently being held at Le Méridien Hotel in Pointe aux Piments.
The Minister of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, the Director of the UNECA Southern Africa Regional Office, Mr Said Adejumobi, and the Director Policy, Planning and Resource Mobilisation, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat, Mr Mubita Luwabelwa, as well as other eminent personalities were present at the event.
In his keynote address, Minister Bholah highlighted the need for a comprehensive programme for the consolidation of the SME sector in the African Continent adding that it will contribute to enhancing the competiveness of SMEs and improve the business. The programme, he emphasised, will serve as catalyst in the reinforcement of institutional support systems and the promotion of technology transfers as well as industrial innovations hence improving productivity. In a fast-paced world, Southern African countries have to harness ambitions and focus on strategies to experience a booming SME sector, he pointed out.
Minister Bholah underlined that according to the African Development Bank, SMEs are the engines that are most likely to drive economies and are the ultimate stepping stone to industrialisation. He underscored that SMEs have been positioned as major drivers for poverty alleviation and income generation with a contribution of some 60% of total employment worldwide. In Mauritius, he emphasised, SMEs have been identified as key channels for an inclusive and balanced economic growth thereby evolving as an important pillar of the economy.
Minister Bholah underscored that Government is determined to support the development of the SMEs through the implementation of appropriate policy decisions and strategies. He highlighted that the 10-year SME Master Plan, a game changer in the economic development scenario of Mauritius, has been put in place to bring a structural transformation of the SME sector. The setting up of the SME Mauritius Ltd, he observed, was also part of the major changes which have paved the way forward for the SME sector by providing a better system of governance and doing away with bureaucratic inefficiencies.
Government, he underpinned, is leaving no stone unturned to conclude regional and multilateral agreements with a view to further increase commerce on the international front. He further added that Mauritius together with African countries should gear up to address challenges faced by SMEs and pledge for a regional approach to SME support and development for the successful operation of the sector in the Southern Africa region. On this score, the Minister urged fruitful deliberations during the Ad-Hoc Expert Meeting with regard to necessary reforms aimed at better equipping SMEs so that they could participate fully in the process of industrialisation.
For his part, Mr Said Adejumobi underscored that there should be a convergence of interests and determination between the UNECA and SADC for a successful regional cooperation. Speaking of the role of UNECA, he pointed out that it is an agency which has been mandated to operate at regional and sub-regional levels in order to bring countries together and harness resources for a prosperous Africa.
Director Mubita Luwabelwa, on the other hand, spoke of institutional strengthening as the foundation for sustainable development of the SME sector in the Southern African regions. He emphasised that the attainment of sustainable developments goals will be possible only if a roadmap determining future course of action is prepared. He also underlined that the Meeting will serve as platform for sharing new information related to SMEs and reporting on the Southern African economic development.