Nigeria plays host to the 25th edition of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Abuja this week. This comes in the backdrop of economic resurgence in Africa. In 2014, economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to clock around 6 percent. The continent boasts of one billion consumers who spend an estimated $600 billion annually. The continent’s middle class has tripled over the last 30 years, and is projected to grow to 1.1 billion in 2060. The local e-commerce market is growing at a rate of around 30% a year and shows no signs of slowing down.
The summit should not just be another conference. Its theme: ‘Forging Inclusive Growth and Creating Jobs’ must be translated to action. This will entail taking concrete steps to embrace economic informality and support the continent’s SMEs sector. The informal and SME sectors account for 80% of new jobs across the continent and are thus a major contributor to wealth. In spite of this, African governments have either ignored them or waged heated wars on them.
The large scale manufacturing which is still embryonic in Africa; increased interest of emerging and developed economies in Africa; rising consumer market; rising of the middle class; and increased internet penetration provide SMEs with a definite opportunity to fill the manufacturing gaps; trade across borders; offer more products and services; and leverage on the online market, while reducing traditional customer acquisition costs. This will in turn translate to inclusive growth and creation of hundreds and thousands of new jobs.