The Managing Director of DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa Charles Brewer, has said that Small and Medium (SMEs) in Africa are the basis for strong and sustained economic growth on the continent.
Speaking at the just-concluded World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, Mr Brewer also called for synergies by governments, business leaders and the communities in a bid to ease doing business on in Africa.
Held in Cape Town, South Africa under theme: Then and Now: Reimagining Africa’s Future, the Summit brought together business leaders from all over the world and, according to Mr Brewer,
Africa is the last frontier for growth and economic development.
“The region offers plenty of untapped opportunities, which pave the way for SMEs to fill the gaps not presently being catered for by larger corporations. Manufacturing, on a large scale, is still somewhat embryonic in Africa and as such, there is a definite opportunity for SMEs that operate in the manufacturing industry,” Mr Brewer was quoted saying, adding that, “the biggest game changer for Africa going forward will be its ability to boost connectivity and intra-Africa trade.”
According to participants in panel discussion 1 on the Future of Trade at the WEF summit, only 12% of African countries’ total trade is with each other, while the continent only accounts for 3% of value addition in global trade.
“Africa needs to remove the obstacles which hinder the ease of doing business and continually investigate new trade agreements in the region, as these have the potential to boost the level of trade significantly. Africa has already benefited from several trade partnerships such as the East Africa Community (EAC) and ECOWAS and the imminent launch of the Tripartite Free Trade Area. These are significant developments for Africa – and it is crucial that these collaborative relationships continue and more importantly, that they be implemented consistently,” Mr Brewer said at the WEF on Africa.
“Attending a forum such as WEF definitely enriches your knowledge, but what I find most valuable, is that a lot of the discussions challenge your beliefs and value sets. As an example, the sessions about gender equality in the workplace, digitization across Africa and being a socially responsible organization that delivers shared and inclusive value have really reignited my focus areas. These have always been a top priority for DHL, but it is always great to hear how other organisations are managing these issues and to learn from them.” DHL’s Brewer said.
A multi-billion dollar investment, DHL, a leading global logistics firm set up in Africa in 1978 and the company boasts of a presence in 220 countries including in Uganda, with 325.000 employees across the globe. In 2014, the company generated revenue worth 56 billion Euros. DHL also deals with, among others, e-Commerce, technology, life science and healthcare, and energy.