Members of the academia have been challenged to develop capacities of actors in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to enable developing economies to become active players in world economy.
The challenge was made by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Joyce Mapunjo, at the opening of two-day International Conference on Globalisation and Development in Dar es Salaam on Thursday.
The theme of the conference was Promoting Trade Competitiveness in Developing Countries.
She said MSMEs in developing and developed countries play a significant role in the economic and social development of their people.
“This arises from the fact that majority of economic activities are conducted by micro, small and medium enterprises,” she observed.
In Tanzania, she said, small and medium enterprises sector contributes more than 50 percent of the GDP.
While in Uganda there are at least 800,000 micro, small and medium enterprises employ about 90 percent of non farming active population.
Statistics also indicate that in sub-Saharan Africa, small businesses particularly the informal ones account for 40 to 60 percent of urban employment.
Apart from being the major source of income and employment, the SME sector facilitates creation of local or regional linkages among different sectors since it utilises local resources, she said.
She said her Ministry has been tasked with various assignments, including encouraging and promoting an enterprising society in which SMEs of all kinds thrive and achieve their potential in every region.
The other activity is to build excellence in business and ensure that small ventures get the support they need, she said. The last assignment is to advise the government on regulation, red tape and bureaucracy in so far as they impinge on the health of SMEs.
She also noted that promoting competitiveness in developing countries and economic and social development of the people are not easy things to achieve and that they require sustained long term joint efforts by SMEs, the government and members of academics.
According to her, the government is committed to making Tanzania more enterprising and more entrepreneurial because it believes that enterprise is the engine of the economy.
“We also seek to address the skills and staffing issues in SMEs since recruiting and keeping the right people for most of the time has been a difficult thing,” she said.
She urged universities to do more to improve opportunities and engage young graduate to learn more about enterprise and develop skills while still in college.
Speaking earlier University of Dar es Salaam Business School dean Dr Marcelina Chijoriga, urged the government to help SMEs in tackling the challenges facing them.
She said the major challenges include poor power supply, infrastructure, lack of good governance, lack of capital and formalisation of their businesses.
She said the school has establish courses which would help SMEs learn and tackle some of the problems facing them.
The meeting which ended yesterday was sponsored by the government of Denmark and attracted more than 70 participants from various countries worldwide.