East African SMEs accelerate growth with cloud deployments

28Aug 2020
The Guardian
East African SMEs accelerate growth with cloud deployments

​​​​​​​SMALL and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the East African region are using digital transformation initiatives to increase their competitiveness and ensure they are set for growth despite challenging trading conditions.

Pedro Guerreiro.

According to Pedro Guerreiro, Managing Director, central Africa at SAP, investments into new technologies will greatly assist SMEs in the region as they adapt to a very different operating environment.

“As one of the most important drivers for job creation and economic growth, the SME sector is vital to the region’s economic recovery. Technology will continue to play a determining role in how well the sector recovers from this year’s events, while also digitally-tooling organisations to out-perform their competitors in this new economy and enabling them to execute the business, operate, and thrive in the market.”

In 2017, SMEs accounted for 98% of all businesses in Kenya and created 30% of all jobs annually. According to the International Trade Centre, SMEs contributed 34% of Kenya’s GDP in 2016.

However, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic should not be underestimated: a recent Deloitte study found a 50% reduction in household and business spending, with direct consequences for the country’s SME sector.

“SMEs will need to reduce inefficiencies and improve decision-making to ensure they continue to survive – and thrive – despite our current challenges,” says Guerreiro. “In an encouraging sign, a growing number of East African SMEs are leveraging technology to improve business decision-making and drive greater efficiency across their operations.”

Guerreiro says gaining granular insight into the financial and overall performance of the business is essential to the growth and survival of SMEs. “Business leaders can no longer make educated guesses about the performance of the business. You need certainty over the total performance of the business at all times, not weeks or months after the fact.”

Guerreiro believes there is great potential for further investment into new technologies that could help SMEs unlock new market opportunities.

“Ultimately SMEs should strive to become Intelligent Enterprises that apply advanced technologies within integrated, agile business processes to turn insight into action. As the sector expands its capabilities, SMEs will be better placed to sense opportunities, risks and trends, and take advantage of market opportunities.”

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