Depoliticise support for SMEs – Prof. Bokpin

An economist and professor of finance, Prof. GodfredBokpin, has said the state must put aside politics and be intentional on lending support to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to enable them leapfrog into viable global and continental giants.

Prof. Bokpin who was speaking in a panel discussion at the 11th Ghana Economic Forum in Accra yesterday said: “The state must be intentional, and must have a plan in addition to the plan of these SMEs to enable them to grow into regional and continental firms while relegating politics to the background.”

“We cannot just remain at the position of mere conversations on SMEs and reduce everything to rhetoric and politics. State support is required for SMEs to be placed at the global level,” he said.

Prof. Bokpin argued that average African politicians were uncomfortable with powerful domestic private companies which did not belong to their camp, because of the role money played in politics.

“A lot of African rich businessmen are uncomfortable keeping their monies on the continent due to over-scrutiny, victimisation among others, Prof. Bokpin indicated, adding: “We need to move beyond politics and support local SMEs regardless of their affiliations,” he said

A survey by McKinsey Africa undertaken in 2018 discovered 100 businesses with US$1billion in annual sales.

Out of this, a total 25 percent are subsidiary group companies of foreign-domiciled multinationals, 50 percent have local origin, 40 percent are publicly listed, and 60 percent are privately owned.

While most of these companies are of South African and Nigerian origin, none of the 100 companies is Ghanaian.

But Dr Bokpinmaintained that the situation was so because Ghana’s regulatory environment had become political and was more open to facilitating foreign capital to the detriment of enabling local SMEs’ growth.

“If we have done this injustice to ourselves, why do you turn around and cry about going to the IMF 17 times?” he asked.

The 11th edition of the Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) is on the theme ‘Building a Robust & Resilient Economy through Technology, Finance, Investment, Trade and Entrepreneurship. Norvan Reports.

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