“We need to leave this place (WEF Africa 2014) with concrete ideas that we are going to be implementing the day when this conference is over,” Arancha Gonzalez, the executive director of the International Trade Centre (ITC) told CNBC Africa.
(READ MORE: WEF Africa to address quality of African growth)
“The job market is requiring the government and private sector to create jobs for the youth, women and men entering the market every day and every month.”
Gonzalez welcomed discussions at the WEF Africa 2014 as useful due to multi stakeholder representation which included governments, private sector, academia and civil society.
(READ MORE: The world looks to Africa for opportunities: CITI)
The continent has been moving towards opening up borders to allow free flow of trade, a move hailed by the ITC.
“The good news is that the continent has a plan to create a Pan African trade zone made of different regions integrating from a trade point of view.”
“The bad news is that markets are still too fragmented and there are many non-peripherals which are deadly to trade especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs),” added Gonzalez.
“The bulk of economic tissue of Africa is SMEs so if we want to boost trade we should make sure that the SMEs are in a position to benefit from these very good ideas of integrating African markets.”
“For SMEs in Nigeria just like others in the region the big price is the issue of exposure to regional market and not national market. This requires the cutting of red tape in the borders.”
Value addition was also raised as an issue requiring attention as to assist with job creation among other benefits.
“There is need to add greater value in Nigeria, it’s about making sure that the imports Nigeria has in the economy in sectors like agriculture, industrial and services sector can be transformed for greater value addition within the country. The more value you have in Nigeria the more you create jobs consequently creating more revenue for SMEs.”
Gonzalez noted the need to boost the competitiveness of SMEs and to put in place a set of micro interventions so as to create stable environment with low inflation, a stable currency, exposure to capital and build capacity of SMEs.
BY TRUST MATSILELE