Ghanaian SMEs to benefit from ITC, ECOWAS trade collaboration

A number of Small Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the country are expected to benefit from market opportunities in the West African sub-region following a formal collaboration between the International Trade Centre and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

This follows stakeholder discussions between the partners on the need to establish a customized trade map tool for businesses across the region to harness their capacity and potential in the regional market.

Importantly, the customized trade map will serve as an information tool to further resource business owners seeking to identify potential business partners in the region. Through an ECOWAS trade portal, users will have access to review trade statistics and applicable regional tariffs as well as existing public tenders in the region.

According to the Centre, trade map users will have access to a directory of buyers and sellers across the world, export performance indicators, competitive and alternative markets.

The ITC Director of Division of Country Programmes, Ashish Shah said having direct access to such technological tool is expected to give West African MSMEs valuable data to pursue their respective strategic business objectives.

“The installation of the Trade Map tool is a significant first step towards achieving ITC’s larger mandate of providing comprehensive trade data and intelligence for the entire continent through the Africa Trade Observatory as tasked by the African Union”,

ECOWAS Commissioner of Industry and Private Sector Promotion, Mamadou Traoré, insists that the trade map will ease the identification of traditional, alternative and new markets for goods and services as well as opportunities for new investments.

“We consider the Map as a key tool for deepening economic integration in ECOWAS, enhancing enterprise and regional competitiveness and connecting our economies to global value chains and markets”, he reiterates.

The continent faces a significant investment gap because of perceived risks. Some trade experts assert that assisting more small business entities to connect to international markets would ensure that the gains from trade are broadly distributed across the workforce.

In Ghana, small enterprises form the backbone of the economy, representing about 90 percent of businesses and employing about 60 percent of workers. Instructively, domestic and foreign investments are necessary to ensure that SMEs play a bigger role in development process.

African SMEs, however, like many in developing countries, are less productive than larger companies and often struggle to survive and grow. Future growth, however, depends on greater SME productivity.