Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) constitute the largest number of companies in any African country and play a fundamental role in the creation of employment, the development of skills, and the diffusion of technological knowledge. Past studies have also shown that financial access helps generate new firms, which are generally vibrant and creative. However, in comparison to larger firms, SMEs often have difficulties accessing financing from the formal financial system because financial institutions, particularly commercial banks, often view providing loans to them as too risky or involving high transaction costs. Because of the significant role of SMEs in supporting inclusive growth, employment, and innovation, enhancing their access to finance is highlighted in Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 9 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Much of the intra-African trade consists of consumables—food, drinks, tobacco, sugar, cattle, and meat. The growth of industrialization in some countries, however, has been accompanied by an increase in the trade of durable and nondurable manufactured goods. There has also been a large amount of re-export trade between the coastal and inland states, especially in machinery, transport equipment and spare parts.