The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Ecobank Group have agreed to partner on a continental initiative to support African Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) as they face challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
AUDA-NEPAD Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki and his Ecobank Group counterpart Mr. Ade Ayeyemi, said one of the objectives of the initiative was to create a one-stop platform which will address the challenges of MSMEs during and post-Covid-19.
It will also be an all-encompassing it, flexible and comprehensive one-size-fits-all tool for MSMEs in the formal and informal sectors across the continent; identify opportunities and innovative ways to support and protect MSMEs and job opportunities, especially in food and agribusinesses, technology startups, health specialised entities and those operating along with supply chain operations.
Noting that MSMEs account for an estimated 90 per cent of businesses in most African economies, they added that the framework will help coordinate and harmonise initiatives and ongoing efforts that support MSMEs to gain access to information, finance, and fiscal stimulus during the outbreak.
The platform also aims to ensure that MSMEs have continuous access to national, regional and continental markets, recommending to policymakers, solutions on domestic debts as they are projected to face challenges due to the economic difficulties that the member states will face.
On the initiative, Mayaki said: “The COVID-19 pandemic while affecting global economies, will have a devastating effect on African economies and businesses.
“AUDA-NEPAD and Ecobank Group intend to jointly build a continental platform based on our initial ‘100, 000 SMEs by 2020’ campaign, which will provide an immediate response to the potential impact of Covid-19 on SMEs and job creation on the continent.”
Mayaki added that AUDA-NEPAD will leverage on its existing instruments, networks, and programmes to gather stakeholders around a digital platform that showcases and monitors the progress made.
Ayeyemi said the fragility of some of the African economies is more pronounced with the impact of Covid-19. He, therefore, said a continental coordination was essential to support national measures by governments to curb the spread of the virus on the continent.
He further underscored that MSMEs, which form a large part of individual economies in Africa, have little or no absorption capacity to the effect of the pandemic.
“As a long-time partner of AUDA-NEPAD, we welcome the opportunity to work with the to co-lead this continental platform that will empower MSMEs with knowledge, resources, mentoring, technical expertise and financial support to ensure the sustainability of their businesses during and post-Covid-19.
“The objective of the continental platform is indeed, aligned with the Ecobank vision of contributing to the economic and social development of Africa, our home,” Ayeyemi added.