After 2009, business can only get better â€” at least thatâ€™s the view of most business people across the West African sub-region, according to a recent poll.
Optimism is the mood for 2010 as the New Yearâ€™s resolutions of a varied group of business community members across the region attest.
With a few notable exceptions, 2009 was a tough year for exporters in West Africa. Recessions in the worldâ€™s big economies led to record drops in global trade. But a recovery is underway andÂ resolutions for 2010 are hopeful.
Expanding business means improved livelihoods for the regionâ€™s rural farmers and multiple positive impacts for the region overall.
Business men and women are optimistic that 2010 will bring profit and prosperity.â€Olam wishes to continue to work towards enhancing agricultural competitiveness across Africa by helping farmers move from subsistence farming to commercially viable systems in a sustainable manner,â€ said T.G. Parthasarathy, representative for Africa at the global agribusiness companyâ€™s Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability office. â€œWeâ€™ll do this by structuring farmers into organised groups, financing, input supply, capacity building and market access.â€
Businesses will seek to gain other competitive advantages in the New Year, too, such as certification.
This was welcome news to Oluyemisi Oloruntuyi, programme manager for developing world fisheries at the Marine Stewardship Council. The councilâ€™s certification attests to sustainable practices of companies that catch fish in the worldâ€™s oceans.
â€œIn 2010, I would like to see more developing country fisheries become certified to the MSC standard,â€ Oloruntuyi said.
The world of finance is rebounding after the calamitous financial crisis struck in the last quarter of 2008. In 2010, opportunities for profitable lending in the region are attracting investors â€” and experts expect investment to grow again.
For years, the promise of better Internet connections, which many consider as critical to helping West African companies compete in international markets, have been dashed as long-awaited new submarine cables have been repeatedly delayed. In 2010, though, the long waits may finally end. As many as four new cables could be operational by the end of the year.
Hopes for 2010 are high, too, in the public sector. The worldâ€™s largest regional trading bloc launched at the New Year as countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China eliminated tariffs on 90 per cent of goods traded among them. Regional integration is also high on the agenda for West Africa.
ECOWAS seeks to improve regional integration in 2010.