How to boost growth of small-scale businesses in West Africa, by experts

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Participants at the workshop.

By Valentine Amanze

Experts on businesses in West Africa and other stakeholders have called for more publicity on the activities of the Trade Facilitation West Africa (TFWA) programme especially in the area of reducing barriers for small-scale traders to boost businesses in West Africa.

They also advocated for more emphasis on improving conditions for women traders, stressing that intensive sensitization on the processes and procedures of cross-border trade be carried out, while pointing out that many traders were still largely unaware of the processes.

The participants  made the appeal at the workshop organized by the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) in collaboration with LA International Cooperation at the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) BEST Centre, recently.

At the “Capacity Building Needs Assessment (CBNA) Validation” workshop, which was attended by NACCIMA President, Sir John. C. Udeagbala, the participants also noted that improvement of infrastructure would go a long way in facilitating trade the West Africa.

They stated: “Infrastructure (the provision of shared facilities, one-stop shops and equipment or the creation of Special Economic Zones), improved knowledge on Export and Import processes and procedures, certifications for export trade; data management for members, and logistics, would go a long way to improve the lot of small-scale cross-border traders by improving their competitiveness.”

Besides, they validated the survey findings that financial management; product standardization; commercial information; fundraising or financing; packaging; transportation; development of business plan; prospecting and market research; sales coaching; negotiations and signing of business contracts; direct intervention in control posts, and commercial litigation were priority needs of their associations’ members and areas where capacity building was required.

The workshop was part of activities of the Trade Facilitation West Africa (TFWA) Programme, an initiative driven by multiple international development partners (i.e., USAID, the Netherlands, EU and BMZ) to improve trade facilitation in West Africa. The programme is managed by the World Bank Group and the German Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ), with strategic oversight and guidance provided by a Steering Committee that is chaired by the ECOWAS Commission and supported by the UEMOA Commission as deputy chair.

The programme was developed to tackle the issues facing cross-border trade in West Africa.

The workshop was attended by representatives of stakeholder trade associations, such as, the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), Nigerian Association of Small-Scale Industrialists (NASSI), Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT), West Africa Association for Cross Border Trade in Agro-Forestry (WACTAF), and Women Farmers, Processors, Transporters and Traders Association in Nigeria (WFPTTAN).

 

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