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The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Ecobank Group announce the key focus areas of their joint initiative to support Africa’s Micro Small and Medium Enterprises

May 27, 2020

Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are critical to the African economy as they account for almost 85% of all private sector employment

AUDA-NEPAD (the African Union Development Agency) and Ecobank Group kick-start their collaboration to strengthen Africa’s response to Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). High level representatives from the African Union Commission, regional development banks, development financial institutions, international organisations and commercial banks from the continent came together to focus their efforts on supporting the MSMEs segment and protect the livelihoods of millions of Africans. A virtual workshop facilitated by McKinsey held on May 26, 2020 provided an opportunity to reinforce the commitment of national, regional and continental institutions to work together to support MSMEs following the COVID-19 pandemic.

MSMEs are critical to the African economy as they account for almost 85% of all private sector employment. Vulnerable jobs are in 5 sectors in Africa, including Trade, Agriculture, Manufacturing, Construction and Hospitality. Some 25 – 160 million jobs in Africa are vulnerable due to the impact of COVID-19. This presents an opportunity to come together to increase capabilities available to MSMEs across the continent. Leaders acknowledged the need to continue ongoing efforts to support MSMEs while leveraging organizational capabilities for medium and long-term support.

Governments have committed in average $20 billion to support MSMEs recovery, however access to existing commitments will likely be limited to registered medium enterprises due to criteria outlined by governments and the reducing appetite of commercial banks to loan to small scale enterprises. The funds allocated for MSMEs are insufficient in most countries, leaving the biggest gaps in micro to small unregistered businesses. Based on this estimated financing gap, only 6 out of 20 countries have made commitments that can cover the MSMEs labour costs, including South Africa, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Chad and Cape Verde. For this reason, partnerships such as that being co-led by Ecobank Group and AUDA-NEPAD are vital.

AUDA-NEPAD Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki emphasized that success of this initiative will depend on the number of partners and of the quality of the partnerships. He commended all the attendees for their interest and called their respective organizations to join as partners to drive this mission together.

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO remarked, this initiative is focused on empowering MSMEs and to ease restarting and growing Africa’s economies with the knowledge that a significant number of jobs will be lost and businesses incapacitated. The workshop provided a platform for stakeholders from East, West, Central, North and Southern Africa to identify priority areas and strengthen our collective approach to safeguarding this sector, especially the micro enterprises. We believe that a multilateral approach which includes organisations, private sectors and governments will be beneficial and imperative for a successful implementation of support for Africa’s MSMEs.

About the Platform:
The AUDA-NEPAD and Ecobank Group will work with other African likeminded institutions and businesses to utilize the platform for monitoring and benchmarking, thus allowing members and MSMEs to share their experiences, best practices, national policies, and challenges, and avail resources to support African businesses and economies to overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic. This will help prioritise the Agency’s actions in the short, mid and long term towards the Member States and the partners, to (i) mitigate COVID-19 economic impact, and (ii) leverage on lessons learned from the 100,000 SMEs project and other national, regional and continental initiatives to increase African economies’ level of resilience amid the pandemic.

About the AUDA-NEPAD COVID-19 Response Plan of Action:
The AUDA-NEPAD COVID-19 Response Plan of Action is a proactive, efficient and direct response in enhancing continental coverage, and improving access to sustainable and resilient health services while ensuring the protection of Africa’s economic foundations. The set of thematic areas that have been addressed by the plan create an ecosystem for the private sector to contribute to its implementation and to benefit from its added value, by opening new markets based on a win-win approach. The AUDA-NEPAD will be a recipient of financial investments and donations for its COVID-19 Response Plan of Action. The Agency plays the role of broker between various service providers and governments, as well as coordinate the value chain from operations to institutional mechanisms.

About Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’ or ‘The Group’):
Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) is the parent company of the Ecobank Group, the leading independent pan-African banking group. The Ecobank Group employs over 15,000 people and serves about 20 million customers in the consumer, commercial and corporate banking sectors across 33 African countries. The Group has a banking license in France and representative offices in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Beijing, China; London, the UK and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. The Group offers a full suite of banking products, services and solutions including bank and deposit accounts, loans, cash management, advisory, trade, securities, wealth and asset management. ETI is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchanges in Lagos, the Ghana Stock Exchange in Accra, and the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières in Abidjan.

* SOURCE Ecobank
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