Investment Climate Reforms and the Development of SMEs: A comparative analysis of South Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria

"Asian economies that experienced tremendous growth in the last three decades identify private sector savings as an important contributor to their growth. This is in sharp contrast with the experience of most African economies that have not fully developed the private sector as a major force for development and continue to operate economies that are mostly driven by public sector savings. Small and Medium Sized enterprises (SMEs) are an important player among the potentially important private sector players who could bring a significant contribution to Africa's development efforts. This is because SMEs have been found to play a vital role in the economic growth of developing countries, typically accounting for over 90% of business establishments and about half or more of output and export shares. The objective of this study has been to investigate the extent to which the reforms in the investment climate of South Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria have contributed to the growth and development of these countries. This objective was accomplished through the application of a mixed quantitative and qualitative methodology. The quantitative approach entailed the administration of 1200 questionnaires to Small and medium Sized Enterprises across ten cities in the above mentioned countries with an average of 400 questionnaires per country. The surveyed firms were questioned on their perception of some characteristics of the investment climate and business environment in which their firms operate, as well as the support programs and policies put in place by their respective governments to support SMEs. The research findings reveal that Africa is increasingly recognising the important role of the private sector in supporting economic growth through inter alia job creation, tax revenues."