Supporting the engine of Africa

Supporting the engine of Africa

"Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the engine of Africa"

Commentary by Professor Edward Scicluna, Maltese Minister for Finance

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the engine of Africa, driving innovation and economic betterment. The Companies to Inspire Africa report is an admirable milestone in the rise of Africa’s entrepreneurs – sharing their success with the global community.

Today, SMEs create around 80% of the continent’s employment, helping to establish a new middle class while boosting demand for goods and services. Yet there is a desperate shortage in the private investment needed for high-growth enterprises to consistently realise their full potential.

By identifying fast-growing private companies, this publication helps to create the information infrastructure needed to boost global private investment in Africa. This initiative supports the goal of the European Union’s (EU) External Investment Plan (EIP), which is also supported by the Malta government, as it contributes to economic growth and the creation of jobs. It also shines a light on the companies that investors are looking for.

Malta wants to take these initiatives further. During its Presidency of the Council of the EU, and in particular through the informal Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) being hosted in Malta during the first week of April this year, the Government wants the EU member states to examine in depth complementary ways for the existing frameworks to boost private investment in the MENA region.

In particular, this would demand close collaboration between the EU and other international institutions such as World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), and request them to propose a significant programme which is meant to give the MENA region renewed vigour for its development plans.

To this end, I have also invited the finance ministers of the Maghreb region for a 5+5 Meeting with their North-Western Mediterranean neighbours to further explore ways in which such a programme can be implemented.

We want to facilitate investment towards North Africa and beyond in order to address problems that are inhibiting private-sector development, leading to lack of future prospects, thus exacerbating migration flows into Europe.

Companies like those showcased in this publication will generate productive jobs and sustainable livelihoods. We must safeguard the future of Africa’s SMEs if its young and vibrant working population is to lead fulfilling lives supported by good incomes. For all of these reasons, I have no doubt you will be inspired by the companies and people of this publication that are driving forward the economies of a continent that is home to more than a billion people.