Vibrant Private Sector Crucial To West Africa’s Economic Growth– Coverage of #SankalpWestAfrica2023 in Ghana Report

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Karnika Yadav, Intellecap Africa, Arielle Molino, Sankalp Africa, Flaubert Mbiekop, IDRC & Paul Chater, Perspecta Group

Experts at the recently held SANKALP West Africa summit have emphasised the need for respective governments across the region to build conducive ecosystems which foster entrepreneurship and private sector growth.

They argued that entrepreneurship has huge potential to boost the region’s socio-economic growth while noting that instability, inconsistency and inadequate support on the part of some countries are hindering the expected impact.

The experts also added that a conducive business space will better position the private sector to drive economic growth, as “economic growth cannot be attained without a vibrant private sector”.

“It is very critical for individual governments to create an ecosystem or a regulatory framework that is conducive for growth of the entrepreneurial space, and which can grow them rather than hold them back. We believe that if we build an ecosystem in which entrepreneurs operate, that could capitalise the countries’ economies and will have a lot of trickle-down effects on various sectors – including agriculture, water and sanitation, healthcare, circular economy, climate change and so on.

“A reason why we are interested in assisting and working with entrepreneurs is to see them succeed to employ a lot of others and impact other sectors,” said Karnika Yadav, Partner and Director at Intellecap Africa.

Ms. Yadav further noted that there must be a regulatory structure that applies to businesses based on their various sizes and values.

“For instance, if you have a regulatory system for a business worth US$10million and the same regulation for a business with lesser revenue or even a new business, then it becomes a hindrance for the new businesses to come into the market. Regulations have to be tiered. Different regulations for different sizes of businesses are advisable,” she said. Ms. Yadav added that corruption is another ‘big thing’ that respective countries on the continent must look at eliminating, because it makes the private sector ‘fearful’ and reluctant to participate in the economy.

“Another thing about some African countries is that as governments change, priorities of the country also change because every successor wants to pursue their own development agenda and plans, ignoring previous work that was started. There needs to be stability, because businesses can scale-up and grow when there is stability, continuity and consistency. This is also crucial for the country’s development,” she added.

Meanwhile, Senior Programme Specialist with the Sustainable Inclusive Economies Programme at Canada’s International Development Research Centre, Flaubert Mbiekop said: “In terms of jobs, it is not the sole role of government to create jobs; the private sector is equally responsible – and what that means is one cannot have economic growth without a vibrant private sector wherein entrepreneurs can operate and grow over time.

“We also know that in terms of resources, money is in the private sector. We know what the realities are with the debt and inflation situation, as most of our countries are simply broke.” Other experts, including Intellecap and Sankalp Africa Lead, Arielle Molino, and founding partner of Perspecta Group, Paul Chater, reiterated the need to leverage local expertise for development and solutions – as well as adequately involving the youth in every sphere of the economy.

They added that partnerships and collaborations are also key for a productive business ecosystem. This year’s summit was themed ‘Catalysing collaborations for entrepreneur-led development in West Africa’. It focused on the power of partnerships in supporting the growth of entrepreneurs in the region, and driving critical discussions around focus areas like climate and energy, agriculture, health and nutrition, circular economy, financial inclusion, gender and livelihoods. The Sankalp West Africa Summit 2023 is presented by Intellecap and Sankalp Forum, and positively engaged more than 80 global and regional speakers along with over-300 pioneering change-makers from the development ecosystem and impact community in West Africa to discuss, define and drive forward the critical levers of entrepreneurial success across 16 interactive sessions.

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