Experts to discuss financing of small, medium industries
OVER 60 experts from around the continent are meeting in Lusaka since yesterday to discuss financing for small and medium industries in Africa.
The three-day expert group meeting organised by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) will bring together experts in the fields of private sector development, investment banking, mining, agro industries, commercial banks, finance and industrial policy drawn from across the continent, including experts from COMESA, AU, the government and the greater UN system.
The purpose of the meeting is to review findings of a UNECA study on 'Financing Small and Medium Scale Industries in Africa' and to discuss different models and innovative sources of financing for SMI including opportunities offered by emerging capital markets and the role of non bank financial institutions.
According to UNECA, although SMIs constitute a significant part of total employment in many African countries, they have not significantly contributed to economic growth due to numerous challenges such as limited access to finance.
The SMIs in most African countries have not thrived over the years due to an unfavourable business environment such as low entry and exit barriers, not well-defined property rights, ineffective contract enforcement and inability of firm access to finance.
These characterise a business environment that is not conducive to competition and private commercial transactions, according to UNECA.
Both firm-level and industry-level studies suggest that small firms do relatively better compared to large firms in countries with better-developed institutions.
The expert group meeting will also discuss government policies and intervention in propelling the growth of SMIs.
Experts will share experiences from their own countries with a view to learning from best practice on the continent.
The meeting will end on Thursday with the launch of the Economic Report on Africa 2012, an annual publication of UNECA and the African Union