By Taonga Sabola:
Private sector players in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) member states stand to benefit from a €10 million kitty provided by the European Union (EU) to support increased private sector participation in regional and global value chains.
The development follows the signing of a financing agreement between the EU and Comesa to implement the Regional Enterprise Competitiveness and Access to Markets Programme (Recamp).
This agreement which was signed in Lusaka, Zambia, Monday—is supported under the 11th European Development Fund.
Comesa Secretary General, Chileshe Kapwepwe, and the Head of the EU Delegation to Zambia and Comesa, Alessandro Mariani, signed for their respective organisations.
The programme is aimed at ensuring competitiveness and market access of small and medium enterprise (SMEs) and other firms in the targeted value chains are sustainably enhanced.
The programme will facilitate networking, access to knowledge, vital market information and support formal business linkages between SMEs, key regional suppliers and lead firms.
It will support more formalised governance structures in the value chains and enhance capacities of SMEs and other actors in adhering to sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical standards to comply with regional markets requirements
The programme will also focus on improving the business environment for SMEs and other firms in the selected value chains by complementing current national strategies developed by member states for economic transformation through industrialisation.
Activities will include supporting peer learning with the front-runner countries sharing experiences.
Kapwepwe cited supply-side constraints as a major contributor to low competitiveness and productivity of industries in the region, as well as inability of enterprises, especially women and youth owned enterprises, to participate in regional production networks.
“According to the findings of a profiling exercise of SMEs in the footwear, garments and cassava processing that was undertaken by the Comesa Secretariat, it was noted that at least 65 percent of SMEs operating in the region are facing most of these constraints,” Kapwepwe explained.
The Recamp programme will run for five years focusing on three priority value chains of agro-processing, horticulture and leather and leather products.
Mariani said the targeted value chains were selected for having high demand both in the region and international markets.