The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), says West African countries must create export-ready MSMEs that can compete with exports from other countries.
The Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of SMEDAN, Mr. Olawale Fasanya, said this at the ongoing 1st edition of the Gambia-Nigeria trade fair in Banjul, Gambia.
The fair has as its theme “Ahead of AfCFTA: Strengthening West African Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Capacity to Boost Intra-Regional Trade.”
According to a statement issued on Saturday by Mr Ibrahim Mohammed, Head of Corporate Communications, SMEDAN, Fasanya emphasised the need for enabling environment for MSMEs to grow.
He said that the theme of the trade fair was aimed at challenging institutions of governments in both countries to provide the enabling environment for MSMEs to thrive locally and globally.
“My expectation is to see more of our products in markets beyond our continent.
“I am confident that we will very soon begin to witness significant growth within our MSMEs space as a direct benefit of this fair.
“The fair will, no doubt, provide the needed platform for future business-to-business, business and government and government to government co-operation.
“This, I know, will help reduce impeding issues such as insecurity, corruption and other socio-political crises that have significantly not allowed our MSMEs space to be fully developed” Fasanya said.
The SMEDAN boss said that the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) initiative should help double intra-Africa trade by 2030.
He also projected that it would reduce reliance on imports and help create more jobs within the shortest possible time.
“When you consider the volume of trade between Nigeria and The Gambia, you will be convinced that there are opportunities that have not yet been exploited.
According to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade, Nigeria’s exports to The Gambia was 1.47 million dollars during 2021, while Nigeria’s imports from The Gambia was 385.86 thousand dollars.
“The commodities of exchange are largely primary products without much value-addition.
“This is the narrative the fair is intended to change over time.
“We expect that Nigeria and The Gambia will be able to maximally develop our MSMEs to fully take advantage of not just the huge African markets.
“And also enter other economic territories of the Americas, Europe and Asia,” Fasanya said.