President Akufo-Addo (left) with Wamkele Mene (right), Secretary-General, AfCFTA, and Dr Amin Adam (middle), Minister of Finance, at the 3i Africa Summit in Accra. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANOPresident Akufo-Addo (left) with Wamkele Mene (right), Secretary-General, AfCFTA, and Dr Amin Adam (middle), Minister of Finance, at the 3i Africa Summit in Accra. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
President Akufo-Addo (left) with Wamkele Mene (right), Secretary-General, AfCFTA, and Dr Amin Adam (middle), Minister of Finance, at the 3i Africa Summit in Accra. Picture: SAMUEL TEI ADANO
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Push for SMEs growth - President tells governments at 3i Africa Summit

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on African governments to align their policy framework to support the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and encourage innovation.

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The President emphasised the importance of SMEs in driving economic growth and job creation across the continent and highlighted the need for governments to create a conducive policy environment that enabled SMEs to thrive and innovate.

Addressing participants in the 3i Africa Summit yesterday, he said the conducive environment included providing access to finance and investing in infrastructure and technology that could support the growth of these businesses.

The President also called on governments to prioritise research and development, as well as foster a culture of entrepreneurship and creativity. The three-day summit is being held on the theme: “Unleashing Africa’s Fintech and Digital economic potential”.

The Bank of Ghana (BoG), the Development Bank Ghana (DBG) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) through its subsidiary, Elevandi, are organising the summit being attended by over 4,000 participants.

The diverse gathering of Africans living on the continent and those in the diaspora included the Prime Minister of Grenada, Dickon Mitchell, who is the Special Guest for the summit, the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Wamkele Mene, and representatives from the African Union.

Also present for the three-day summit are Ministers of Finance, Governors of central banks and leaders of private sector businesses in the financial, investment, policy-regulatory and digital technology domains in Africa.

Until tomorrow, the participants will engage in over 15 sessions with speakers and discussants contributing to over 60 topics aimed at finding the pathways that deliver the most traction in the drive to generate momentum and achieve progress.

Right place

President Akufo-Addo explained that by supporting innovation, African countries could harness the potential of their youthful population and drive sustainable economic growth that benefits all sectors of society.

He reiterated that Ghanaian owned SMEs would benefit from a patient capital pull of $200 million this year sourced from the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) for which a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has already been signed. (Refer to page 16/17 for details).

President Akufo-Addo stated that the funds were to fulfil the government’s objective of providing financial access to SMEs. “In furtherance of our objective of providing financial access to SMEs, the Minister for Finance and the President of EBID signed an MoU for a $200-million facility in Togo last Friday to be disbursed through the GCB Bank PLC and the Ghana EXIM Bank to SMEs,” the President reiterated.

Guest of honour

For his part, Prime Minister Mitchel said Accra was the ideal venue for discussions that sought to move the entire African population both home and in the diaspora towards one agenda.

He said the time was right for Africans to invest in innovation and make it profitable and deliberately form partnerships that would encourage trading across borders. “By forging partnerships and supporting one another, we could reduce the number of unbanked population and increase cross-border partnerships,” the Prime Minister of the Caribbean country said.

Using the Caribbean as an example, Mr Mitchel said many people there were still unbanked because it was difficult to open a bank account. Unlike Africa where mobile money and financial technologies have opened up access to financial services, many in the Caribbean are still prevented from getting access to financial services, he explained.

“If you cannot show documents to a house, for example, you can’t open a bank account,” Prime Minister Mitchel revealed. He, therefore, called for support for financial technology (fintech) startups and projects that encouraged inclusion to open up the continent for more investment. 

Deploy technology

The Secretary-General of AfCFTA encouraged African governments to deploy digital solutions to tackle the continent’s challenges. Mr Mene said digital inclusion was crucial for leveraging the vast market potential represented by Africa's 1.4 billion population, projected to become one of the world's largest economies by 2050.

"If we don't deploy these digital technologies that all of us are going to be discussing today and tomorrow, I don't think that we will reach that objective. I want to thank all of you very much for the opportunity to share with you what our heads of state have instructed me to do which is to implement the protocol on digital trade," he added.

Mr Mene also called on the governments to put SMEs at the centre of the continental economy to help scale it to the global stage where it could equally compete. "To create opportunities for millions of young Africans to place SMEs in the centre of Africa's economy and to catapult our continent to global competitiveness which is the preeminent objective of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government that we have,” the Secretary-General of AfCFTA stated.

For his part, the Minister of Finance, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, urged participants to examine the transformative potential of fintech in Africa. He stressed the importance of financial inclusion and empowerment through innovative technologies such as mobile payment platforms and blockchain-enabled remittance networks.

Dr Adam, therefore, called for partnerships among stakeholders to drive substantive change and maximise the impact of fintech in driving economic growth and development. The Finance Minister commended the country’s progress in nurturing a vibrant fintech ecosystem, citing the array of startups, accelerators and regulatory initiatives.

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Dr Adam commended the Bank of Ghana for its proactive approach in establishing a conducive regulatory framework for fintech innovation, including the Payment Systems and Services Act, 2019 (Act 987), and the establishment of a Fintech and Innovation Office.

The Finance Minister said Ghana's economy had rebounded, with economic growth surpassing expectations at 2.9 per cent and inflation heading towards the year-end target of 15 per cent.

“Despite currency pressures, the cedi's depreciation has been significantly lower compared to the previous year,” Dr Adam stated.

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