Muawad Mustafa Rashid
Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises – which account for more than 90% of all businesses and around 70% of jobs worldwide – play a pivotal role in stimulating economic growth and providing employment for vulnerable groups such as women, young entrepreneurs, and poor communities.
In 2017, to recognize the importance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in promoting innovation, creativity, and decent work for all – and achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – the United Nations General Assembly declared 27 June to be Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Day by adopting resolution 71/279.
Smaller businesses can be agile in response to a changing world but their size also makes them vulnerable. Identifying international market opportunities and navigating trade-related procedures can be harder for small businesses than for their larger competitors. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda recognized the importance of MSMEs and call for action to improve their access to finance, value chains, and markets.
Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises Day are dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of supporting the development of small and medium-sized businesses in developing countries but it is also a celebration of the gigantic contribution smaller companies make to the global economy, often away from the spotlight.
As the United Nations entity supporting the internationalization of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, the International Trade Centre works with partners on a series of events marking the Day across the world.
Manufacturing of Sudan
Sudan’s manufacturing sector remains relatively small; manufacturing and mining combined contribute less than one-third of the GDP and employ only a small percentage of the country’s labor force. The country’s industrial base is dominated by the processing of food and beverage products. Sugar refining is a major activity, as is the production of vegetable oil and soap, the ginning of cotton, and the production of cotton textiles. Other industries include oil refining and the production of shoes, chemical fertilizers, and cement. Many factories, however, operate at a mere fraction of their capacity.
I recall in 1982 a new company under the name Sudan Rural Development Company (SRDC) was established supported by some member states of the European Economic Community at that time aiming at financing the small-scale industries in Sudan. It was a very successful experience and the European experts toured they managed to conduct feasibility studies and financed several small-scale industries in several parts of the country including a plastic factory in Nyala – which is still working as I came to know -, poultry farms, mixed farm.
The SRDC was an associate company to the Sudan Development Corporation which was established earlier to promote small-scale industries.
But unfortunately, the activities of the SDC and the SRDC declined and almost vanished despite the considerable success achieved in the first years, and that is due to the blunder and improvise of the successive governments
This year the transitional government gave considerable concern and Sudan marked the Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises Day through organizing an event in the Friendship Hall in the presence of the Minister of Industry.
In SUNA regular forum the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Industry, Eng. Ismail Shamsaddeen affirmed the importance of small-scale industries because it contributes considerably in providing the essential requirements of the citizens, besides its contribution in promoting the youth innovations and creating job opportunities for graduates,
He affirmed that the government is paying more attention to the small-scale industries to contribute to the GDP, calling on all financing institutions to contribute to the revival of the industrial development process.
He enumerated the challenges facing the industrial sector in the country represented by financing, new technologies, training, providing electrical power which the transitional government is considering as top priorities.
He revealed the government’s efforts in providing solar energy to 7 industrial areas in Soba, Bagair, Khartoum, Port Sudan, and El-Obied by providing 700 megawatts to those industrial areas.
He added that there are other projects for funding including small sugar cane mills in the production areas in Darfur to be operated by the farmers there.
The Director of the Small Industries and Handcrafts administration in the ministry, Suad Yusuf announced their plan to establish 5 industrial complexes including milk products in North Kordofan, food processing in River Nile, agricultural machinery in Gedaref, leather products in South Darfur.
She added that there is also fish farming and leading businesses in the budget of this year.
The celebration of the Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises Day in Sudan this year aim at achieving balanced development referring to the exhibition accompanying the ceremony which concentrated on the small-scale industries, besides providing an opportunity to exchange ideas and innovations among the partners and the small scale industries union.
To sum it up, the challenges facing the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Sudan are – and not limited to – :
The high taxation and levies lead to an increase in production costs.
The absence of a clear industrial strategy.
Not benefiting from the regional and international agreements in promoting the industrial sector.
The lack of resources administration strategy.
There is no clear policy in supporting local industrialization.
We believe that the transitional government represented by the ministry of the industry can deal with the issue by organizing a specialized panel to work out a plan to revive the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the country towards bright horizons.
The Ministry of Higher Education also has a crucial role in setting a strategy for technical education and promoting the vocational institutions besides the necessity of establishing a technical institute in each state.