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UN Agency Presents Policy Options To Boost MSMEs In West Africa

THE International Trade Centre (ITC), a United Nations agency focusing on small business trade, presented key policy options aimed at bolstering micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in West Africa. The insights from a position paper titled, Policy and Legal Options to Promote MSMEs under the ECOWAS and AfCFTA Competition Frameworks. were shared with representatives from regional business associations in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

During the workshop, participants explored the advantages of competition for MSMEs and discussed how robust competition laws and policies can establish a fair business environment. The position paper contains several recommendations, including granting MSMEs blanket exemptions from competition rules to reduce administrative burdens and facilitating bid rigging provisions and joint-bidding to distinguish between serious and non-serious bid rigging, with exemptions for MSMEs involved in non-serious bid rigging. Additionally, specific provisions on public procurement within the AfCFTA Protocol on Competition were proposed to support harmonisation efforts.

The workshop, part of the ITC’s West Africa Competitiveness (WACOMP) programme, was funded by the European Union and involved collaboration with key stakeholders. Participants included representatives from the Federation of West African Employers Association (FWAEA), the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), the Federation of West Africa Manufacturers Associations (FEWAMA), and the Federation of Business-Women and Entrepreneurs (FEBWE), among others.


The second day of the workshop, on March 22, will focus on gathering feedback and revising the paper, culminating in its validation. Additionally, a roundtable will be held to prepare for a policy dialogue session with the ECOWAS commission.

The West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP), financed by the European Union under the 11th European Development Fund, aims to enhance the competitiveness of West African countries and integrate them into the regional and international trading system. Under the WACOMP, ITC collaborates with UNIDO under the guidance of the ECOWAS Commission to strengthen the production, transformation, and export capacities of the private sector, aligning with regional and national industrial and MSME strategies.

The International Trade Centre (ITC) serves as the joint agency of the World Trade Organisation and the United Nations. It supports small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to enhance their competitiveness in global markets, contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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