Accountant and economics commentator Khaya Sithole has called on the government to ease access to markets for SMMEs, warning that failure to do so, will hamper the country from reaching optimal trade levels. Sithole said that more should be done to enable small businesses to not only grow locally but to also have an international footprint.
He was speaking at a webinar hosted by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), which collaborated with the Department of Trade and Industry earlier this week. The purpose of the webinar was to discuss the impact of outbound trade shows on SMMEs. Sithole pointed out that many people did know that a business existed until they arrived at a trade event, and someone explained what it was about. He also said that facilitating and enabling small businesses to get some market access was critical.
“It remains remarkably important for us to be able to promote and to enable many small and emerging businesses to access the platforms, be given the type of visibility, (and) to be given the type of market access that enables many more potential trade partners not just to know that they exist, but also (to attest to) the fact that they have done particular work and are willing to engage and collaborate with different partners, particularly across the continent,” he said.
“Every single global company started in a particular community, in a particular setting with particular support mechanisms that enabled it not only to grow in this primary jurisdiction but also to spread its wings across continents, different borders and ultimately the world.” Sithole also pointed out that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTFA), which came into effect in 2018, would determine whether the continent was equipped to reverse its trade deficit.
“With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement now having been formalised, the question remains whether it will now be easier for a small business in South Africa, Burundi, or Botswana to say that they want to be able to move their goods to another part of the continent,” he said. “If it is easier (to do so), the next question would be whether there will be an increase in the volumes of those goods being traded.”
Sithole also observed that South Africa and other countries on the continent did not trade enough amongst themselves. He, however, praised AfCTFA and noted that it would place the continent on a better economic footing when compared to other regions globally.
“Other regions across the world have countries that have made it much easier for labour to migrate across borders for goods and services under the understanding that the easier it is to move items from one jurisdiction to another, the cheaper it is for the citizens of both countries to be able to trade with each other,” he said. “We know that there are significant upsides associated with this type of free trade agreement.”