Vice President Edward Ssekandi has challenged COMESA member states to address challenges that affect the growth Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMES).
These he said include dependency on indigenous sources and reliance on family workers and lack of access to credit among others. He was speaking at the opening of the 8th COMESA Business Forum at Speke Resort Munyonyo in the outskirts of Kampala.
Ssekand said the entity is still regarded as a project for school leavers and for people substituting on their low income. "There is need to address the factors that affect the growth and development of MSMES," he said.
The VP said government is committed to supporting MSMES to enable them becoming operational as formal business entities.
He urged the participants to identify specific regulatory reforms needed to promote growth of MSMES in the COMESA region.
Trade Minister Amelia Kyambadde called for action among the COMESA partner states to implement decisions geared towards boosting SMEs. "Now that I am the chair, I will steer COMESA with dictatorship and autocracy. I warn the Secretary General that he should be ready for action. The time to act is now. We can't keep on giving speeches," said Kyambadde.
She implored the COMESA delegates to institute measures of addressing the various challenges that affect SMEs such as high mortality rates and lack of access to credit.
"We need information sharing. We need to network, but among all I urge COMESAs states to implement what we discuss and agree in such forums. We need to stop working for our stomachs, but think more about adding value to our products," she said.
COMESA secretary General Sindiso Ndema Ngwenya said constraints facing cross border investments in COMESA must be addressed if the region is to develop. "The GDP of the 19 COMESA states combined accounts for $585b yet Turkey, 26 times smaller than us has a GDP of $800b. This means we can do much more than them if we stop talking and start acting," he said.
He said the issues of Non -Tariff barriers were a detriment to regional investment growth. "Why do we keep talking about NTBs? We are doing so because we have not reformed. We need to move to remove the disrupting systems," he said.
The PSFU chairman, Gerald Sendaula said the business forum is a key to regional trade initiatives. The forum that opened yesterday brings together over 500 delegates of Africa's top business leaders, policy makers and international businesses.