Survey: Greater standards compliance needed to boost francophone Africa’s exports
(Geneva) – Companies in French-speaking African countries are more likely to export when they comply with international standards, according to survey results published by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Francophone Consular Chambers (CPCCAF).
As part of a joint survey exercise between ITC and CPCCAF, more than 9,000 firms were interviewed in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, the Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal, Togo, and Tunisia. Among them, 25% have an internationally recognized certificate, generally for quality or safety standards.
Certification is often a prerequisite to entering foreign markets and the smaller the firm, the less likely it is to have an internationally recognized certificate. Across the 16 countries surveyed, only 7% of enterprises in the agriculture sector export, but 70% of those that do hold an international certificate. This suggests that getting more agriculture SMEs certified could boost the number of exporters.
‘Making “good” trade happen hinges upon effective standards that protect consumers and the environment – and ensuring that all countries and their micro, small and medium-sized enterprises have the tools to address these standards,’ said ITC Executive Director Arancha González.
The survey finds that SMEs often struggle to bear the financial, administrative or other costs associated with obtaining and maintaining certification. Trade and investment support institutions (TISIs) can play a role in reducing the costs of obtaining information on certification and standards. Setting up one-stop portals to disseminate high-quality standards-related information to SMEs can help them reduce the costs of obtaining such information. In countries where firms report having better access to information, there are also more certified companies, according to Promoting SME competitiveness in Francophone Africa.
Certification costs are often perceived to be high regardless of a company’s size. In central Africa, where firms report particularly high costs, the certification rate is low compared with other regions. Meanwhile, West Africa appears to offer the highest value for money when it comes to certification.
This report contributes to efforts to collect more and better data on African enterprises. By collecting company perspectives, policymakers are better able to identify weaknesses in business ecosystem, and apply remedies to improve these.
Notes for the Editors
Download Promoting SME Competitiveness in Francophone Africa
Learn more about SME competitiveness surveys
About ITC - The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
For more information, visit www.intracen.org.
International Trade Centre
Jarle Hetland, Media Officer
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Mme Mujinga Tambwe
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E: tambwe [at] intracen.org