The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) consultant, Simona Simona, has urged governments in Southern Africa to implement policies, provide financial and technical support to assist small businesses.
Simona said there was need to enhance access to affordable and appropriate financing options for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
He made these recommendations on Monday in Gaborone, Botswana during a presentation on the Status of Poverty and Inequality in Southern Africa.
This was done at the 29th Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts for Southern Africa, Ad hoc Expert Group Meetings.
Simona highlighted the need for Southern African governments to continue working to boost inclusive economic growth because most policies that increase growth also reduce poverty and vulnerability to poverty.
He recommended the creation of investment opportunities to mitigate the vulnerability of both the poor and non-poor from the effect of shocks including opportunities for African countries to leverage green finance.
Simona further indicated that regional integration was already underway under SADC protocols and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“It’s is important for these initiatives to be inclusive and focus on sharing best practices, cording policies and implementing joint projects,” he said.
Simona also mentioned the need to invest in infrastructure development, including transportation, energy, water and sanitation.
He believed that improved infrastructure would enhance productivity, while at the same time stating the need to strengthen and expand social protection programmes.
This was vital in addressing poverty and equality, which Southern Africa was said to be the most unequal subregion in the world in terms of income.
He said of the 10 countries with the highest levels of income inequality, six are in Southern Africa namely Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia.
Simona further stated that addressing social exclusion was crucial.
“There is need to promote gender equality and empower historically disadvantaged populations including women and youths through targeted policies and programmes,” he said.
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Sub-Regional Office for Southern Africa members include Zambia, Botswana, Angola, Eswatini, Mauritius, South Africa Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Lesotho.
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