SMEs Vital to Healthy Trade in Africa

Published on 7th November 2017

Accounting for roughly 60% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), trade is the pulse of the global economy. Beyond economics, however, there is a strong human component that comes through in the stories of great entrepreneurs creating growth and prosperity in their local communities. These locally grown businesses and the people behind them are ultimately what trade is all about.

Kevin Taylor, Ghana Sales and Country Representative of A.P Moller-Maersk, says that one such entrepreneur is Sefa Gohoho-Boatin, the owner of Eden ‘n’ Eve - a 10-acre flower farm in rural Ghana – who was recently featured in Maersk’s award-winning ‘The Heart of Trade’ campaign which promotes the company’s longstanding passion for trade through a series of authentic films celebrating the everyday entrepreneur of this world as the true hero of global trade.

Entrepreneurs like Sefa, who operate on the African continent, play a particularly important role, says Taylor, highlighting the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in Africa and how they contribute vitally to intra-Africa trade, as well as economic growth.

“Across the globe, SMEs contribute to economic growth and job creation. According to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in developing countries, SMEs provide the majority (60-70%) of formal employment, and in sub-Saharan Africa alone, this figure increases to 80%.  SME growth on the African continent therefore has the potential to significantly boost economic conditions and, as the leading network of container logistics, we have a role to play in the constant drive towards further enabling entrepreneurs to trade,” he explains.

Sefa says, however, that starting her business was no easy feat. “Winning the trust of the community and starting a flower farm in Ghana’s jungle was a challenge, but by overcoming infrastructure barriers, I have been able to help the women of an underprivileged part of the country to become masters of their land – and their pockets.”

The success of Sefa’s business is also very much dependent on supplies such as fertilizer imports and the annual orchid and heliconia harvest, amounting to 125 tonnes, being moved to markets in Holland, Dubai and Nigeria. In addition, a well-developed infrastructure is also of importance, making sure that the goods are delivered to port terminals in time for easy export, otherwise it will be extremely hard for the businesses to operate. 

“The infrastructure needs to be developed to get the produce to the port in time, otherwise, we can't operate,” she says. 

Taylor agrees that infrastructure is key to stimulating free trade and supporting economic growth in Ghana. “According to estimates, more trade will increase the revenues of Ghana’s import and export companies, which will lead to as much as a USD 1.1 billion rise in Gross Value Added to the Ghanaian economy and as many as 450,000 new jobs.”

Taylor concludes, however, that none of this would be possible without entrepreneurs like Sefa as well as possibilities of unhindered trade. “Sefa’s story really showcases what trade is all about. At the heart of trade are people: entrepreneurs, workers, producers, customers and consumers. Free trade simply acts as an amplifier and is helping these striving entrepreneurs to prosper in their work as well as helping countries to grow and connecting the world.”

Courtesy:  A.P. Moller-Maersk,  an integrated transport & logistics company with multiple brands.

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