Président de la Commission de l’Union Africaine (depuis le 1er. février 2008)
Thirty-eight participants from 11 countries have completed the third annual JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency)/DBSA small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMME) training programme for development financial institutions in the Southern African Development Community at the Development Bank of Southern Africa’s Vulindlela Academy(DBSA VA) in Pretoria, South Africa. The participants, from Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, were mostly from either development banks or SMME supporting institutions.
The third country training programme from 15-26 October 2007 was part of a five-year programme initiated as a collaborative effort between JICA and the DBSA VA with the support of NEPAD.
The programme aims to address capacity constraints of relevant government officials and professionals within development financial institutions (DFIs) who are expected to play a key role in strengthening financial services to their clients, such as SMME.
Importance of SMME growth in Sub-Saharan Africa In the context of the economic and financial crises of the 1980s and 1990s, governments in most sub-Saharan countries began to incorporate structural adjustment into their overall policy framework.
As a result, the poor have suffered the most through falling real wages, fewer employment opportunities and increased prices of basic commodities.
Under such circumstances, the informal economy has bloomed and started to draw more attention to the policy agenda for African development. The most significant contributions of the informal economy lie in the areas of employment creation and poverty alleviation.
For example, the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP) of the World Bank is mainly involved in the promotion of the private sector, and in particular, the important role played by micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
SMME as a whole, which in the past played a modest role in development, are now widely recognised as an engine of growth and encouraged to spearhead the development process.
The significant potential of the SMME’s economy, lying in their labour-intensive and flexible nature, income-generating possibilities, effective use of local resources, less-dependence on imported materials, innovativeness and strong linkages with the other sectors of the economy, has been further emphasised.
Thus, international development policies have started to stress the importance of SMME in Africa with the broader macro-economic context of development process and growth strategies.
Constraints impeding the growth of SMME : inaccessibility to finance
While a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the promotion of SMME to accelerate economic growth, SMME face various obstacles due to their size and isolation.
These obstacles result from the lack of specialised skills or equipment and inadequate access to formal financial institutions, markets, raw materials, and relevant information. Furthermore, SMME experience problems of insufficient managerial and organisational capabilities.
Accessibility to formal financial institutions is one of the most serious problems which SMME are facing in sub-Saharan Africa. Lack of access to medium or long-term credit is a major constraint for those enterprises that wish to expand their business.
The reasons for this are well recognised, particularly the fact that SMME present a high risk to the lender because many of them have inadequate assets and suffer from low capitalisation. In addition, poor financial records make it difficult for banks to assess the creditworthiness of potential SMME borrowers.
DBSA VA’s contribution to development of SMME DBSA VA has been assisting DFIs in the SADC region with sourcing finance for training and conducting training programmes with approved consultancy and training firms.
Through their accumulated experiences, DBSA VA realised that creating an asset is not an end in itself, hence the need to further develop the officers and managers within the DFIs to ensure that the loans are sound, strong clients relationships are built and the institution can positively recover on non-performing loans.
The current situation also demands that DFIs sharpen the skills of SMME business development officers to equip them to deal with complex clients.
In the SADC region SMME remain key employers and therefore it is critical to develop the participants so that they become effective as advisors and monitors of the SMME after granting them facilities.
Therefore, in this third training course, the emphasis was on educating officers and managers from DFIs to understand the SMME environment, challenges related not only to finance but capacity building issues as well.
The training programme for the next two years The creation of an enabling environment to accelerate the SMME is still an ongoing process in many African countries and several problems still need to be addressed.
This training programme therefore will continually provide valuable information which will assist staffs in DFIs in their careers as well as the transfer of knowledge to their colleagues to strengthen the ability of the formal financial institutions in their countries.
It will also help to support NEPAD’s initiative in Africa’s development. Source : NEPAD, november 16, 2007
The participation of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the forthcoming African Partnership Forum (APF) meeting in Algiers and recommendations relating to the review of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) questionnaire were discussed at the second NEPAD CSO think tank held in Nairobi, Kenya, on 1-3 November 2007.
The think tank also discussed endorsing the APRM recommendations of the NEPAD Gender Task Force on gender-related aspects of the questionnaire.
Dr. Fatma Karadja, deputy chairperson of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the African Union, was nominated to represent the CSOs at the APF meeting on Algiers. Dr. Karadji is a member of the APRM national council in Algeria.
Litha Musyimi-Ogana, NEPAD advisor on gender, parliamentary affairs and CSOs, reports that, built on the experience learned from the five Peer Reviewed countries, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Algeria and South Africa, and after witnessing the difficulties of other countries in adhering to the APRM process, the CSO think tank proposed that the APRM questionnaire be :
Reviewed to include the recent instruments, charters and protocol such as the African Charter, the Charter on Democracy for Elections and Governance and the Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities ;
Redesigned to be more accessible to enable popular participation ; and
Adaptable to fit particular compliances of the different levels of society.
The think tank recommended :
A step by step CSO guideline to guide and streamline the participation of CSOs in the APRM at the national level.
Provisions be made for an effective, equitable and transparent participation of CSOs and the diaspora in all spheres and stages of the APRM process ; notably in the implementation and follow-up of national plans of action.
An equitable representation of CSOs with particular regard to women, the youth and people with disabilities be considered in the same capacity as other stakeholders. Source : NEPAD, november 16, 2007