ECA

Role of technology incubators in the development of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises in selected Southern African countries

Micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of economies, in particular in the developing world. They account for over 80 per cent of jobs in Africa, although most are predominantly micro, informal, low value added and needs-driven businesses. As such, they need to be supported in order to develop and be sustainable. Their growth and sustainability are essential for the economic development and growth of the continent’s economies. If these enterprises were more opportunity driven, more innovation focused and higher growth, they would have a significant impact on and would contribute to economic development. Micro-, small and medium sized enterprises face several challenges, including a shortage of business and technical skills, limited access to finance and technology, a lack of market knowledge and regulatory hurdles. Incubators are essential interventions to help such enterprises navigate through these challenges. Incubators take various forms and offer a variety of services, which include the provision of office or laboratory space or a mixture of dedicated services, such as: intellectual property advice; training on implementation modalities for innovative projects; business model concept testing and product insight testing; access to research and development through their proximity to universities and research institutions; prototyping and piloting facilities; access to financing and, in some cases, seed financing provided by the incubators themselves; mentorship and coaching; networking; and industry linkages.

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Economic Report on Africa 2024

Amid the fragmented and conflict-prone world, Africa faces many economic, social, and environmental challenges. They are unprecedented in scale, complexity, and interconnectedness, and they impede Africa’s attaining the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. These global challenges render business-as-usual strategies unsustainable. A new approach is required to accelerate wealth creation, reduce inequality, and achieve more equitable and sustainable development.

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UNECA Digital trade regulatory environment: opportunities for regulatory harmonization in Africa

Digital trade regulatory environment: opportunities for regulatory harmonization in Africa

This report provides empirical evidence to inform the negotiations and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA Agreement with a view to promoting intra-African trade. It presents insights for the ongoing negotiations on the Digital Trade Protocol by identifying policy areas with high potential to foster digital trade in the African region. It does so through a gravity model by estimating empirically the relation between the regulatory regime for digital trade imposed by African countries and digital trade flows defined as trade in information and communication technology (ICT) goods and digitally enabled services to identify policies that have a stronger negative relation with digital trade between African countries and the rest of the world. The report also provides further insight for intraregional negotiations and lays out additional empirical analysis based on regulatory heterogeneity across African countries to identify how regulatory harmonization across policy areas could support digital trade in the region.

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