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AUDA-NEPAD, Ecobank seek continental framework to support MSMEs

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• Say African firms lack capacity to mitigate COVID-19

Africa Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), and Ecobank Group have disclosed plans to collaborate in establishing a continental framework to support African Micro and Small-Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
 
According to them, MSMEs, which form a large part of individual economies in Africa, have little or no absorption capacity to cushion the effect of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that is ravaging countries and economies across the world.
 
The organisations said the collaboration was necessary, as it is geared towards a continental initiative to support African MSMEs as they face the economic and social challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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They said the initiative would create a one-stop platform that would address the issues, challenges, and needs of MSMEs during and post COVID-19, and be all-encompassing, flexible, and comprehensive one-size-fits-all tool for MSMEs in the formal and informal sectors across the continent.
 
They maintained that the initiative would identify opportunities and innovative ways to support and protect MSMEs, and job opportunities, especially in food and agribusinesses, technology startups, health specialised entities and those operating along with supply chain operations, noting that MSMEs account for an estimated 90 per cent of businesses in most African economies.
 
Speaking on the initiative, Chief Executive Officer, AUDA-NEPAD, Dr. Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, said the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected global economies, would have a devastating effect on African economies and businesses.
 
His words: “AUDA-NEPAD and Ecobank Group intend to jointly build a continental platform based on our initial ‘100,000 SMEs by 2020’ campaign, which will provide an immediate response to the potential impact of COVID-19 on SMEs, and job creation on the continent.”
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He noted that AUDA-NEPAD will leverage on its existing instruments, networks, and programmes to gather stakeholders around a digital platform that showcases and monitors the progress made.
 
In his remarks, Chief Executive Officer, Ecobank Group, Ade Ayeyemi, said the fragility of some African economies have become more pronounced with the impact of COVID-19, and therefore, requires continental coordination to support national measures by governments to curb the spread of the virus on the continent. He said MSMEs, which form a large part of the individual economies in Africa, have little or no absorption capacity to the effect of the pandemic.

“As a long time partner of AUDA-NEPAD, we welcome the opportunity to work with the Agency to co-lead this continental platform that will empower MSMEs with knowledge, resources, mentoring, technical expertise and financial support to ensure the sustainability of their businesses during and post COVID-19.

“The objective of the continental platform is indeed aligned with the Ecobank vision of contributing to the economic and social development of Africa, our home,” Ayeyemi said.

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