The Zambian government said on Wednesday that Africa’s economic transformation lies in the ability to increase value addition and strengthening the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in national and regional supply chains.
Mushuma Mulenga, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, however, said this could only be achieved if African countries built competitive and sustainable businesses that could compete on a par with regional and international counterparts.
In remarks delivered at an online training program for local sourcing for partnership meeting between buyers and sellers organized by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council (CBC), the government official said it was vital to improve technical capacity and linkages of small and medium-sized enterprises to markets.
“The government is cognizant of the efforts that the private sector is making in terms of regional integration. We further acknowledge the growing recognition of the partnerships between the public and private sectors in tackling issues of productivity,” he said.
According to him, it was time small and medium-sized enterprises realized their potential and local sourcing linkages between the sectors, adding that this has the potential to foster a more competitive and dynamic agro-industry sector.
Meanwhile, CBC Chief Executive Officer Sandra Uwera said the importance of national and regional supply chains and markets has become significant in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic disruptions to traditional supply chains outside the region.
She said Africa sources about 80 percent of its imports from outside and specializes mainly in exporting commodities to world markets, a situation that reveals the shallowness of regional supply chains.
According to her, the low percent in intra-regional trade entails the need for strengthening value chains within the region through addressing the technical capacity constraints of small and medium-sized enterprises.
The CBC is the business apex body in the COMESA region which represents the interests of the private sector.