The Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) is vital for Small, Medium and Micro enterprises (SMMEs) to grow their business, create more jobs and limit importing goods at high prices for Africans.
Speaking at the Made in Africa exhibition on the sidelines of the Agoa Forum, taking place in Johannesburg, Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said it was ‘high time“ for Africa to occupy the entire world with its creativity and innovative ways.
“It is very important that we position these businesses to South Africa, Africa and the world. We have a great story to tell. Our people are innovative and creative,” she said.
A total of 527 African businesses and companies have showcased their products at the Made in Africa exhibition, which has been opened to the public on Saturday - the last day of the Forum.
Ndabeni-Abrahams said there were more than 40 SMMEs, supported by her department, who were present at the exhibition.
“These businesses are export ready. Agoa is a big thing for us and that is why SMMEs can never be left behind. We need jobs and so we need to invest in small businesses. Collaboration is best way to go. When we trade with each other, we are bound to succeed,” she said.
Also attending the exhibition, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry in Ghana, Nana Dokua Asiamah Adjei said they agreed that a sufficiently lengthy extension of the Agoa would help Africa reach its full capacity.
“Initially, 23 years ago when Agoa was first introduced, a lot of us did not have that many industries as we have now. It was a way to motivate ourselves to build our own industries. We have since been able to increase our value added processes,” she said.
Adjei said Africa also needed to work on its utilisation and to find a clear roadmap to track and evaluate processes and leverage opportunities that Agoa provided.
“Importing everything we need is not the way to go.”