(Ecofin Agency) - The survey was carried out in collaboration with the Permanent Conference of African and Francophone Consular Chambers (CPCCAF) among 5,625 companies operating in 13 Francophone African countries. It makes it possible to assess the level of preparedness of SMEs for the effects of climate change.
SMEs operating in Francophone Africa are increasingly aware of the adverse effects of climate change on their activities, but only a minority of them are implementing adaptation and mitigation measures, according to a report published on October 18 by the International Trade Centre (ITC).
Entitled "SME Competitiveness in Francophone Africa 2023: Building resilience to climate change", the report is based on a survey conducted between April and July 2023 among 5,625 companies operating in 13 Francophone African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, DR Congo, Gabon, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal and Togo).
The main finding of this initiative is that 68% of the respondents consider climate change a serious threat. Companies of the primary sector are more concerned about temperature variations and water scarcity, which have a negative impact on crop yields and productivity, while those operating in the service and manufacturing sectors are more concerned about input shortages linked to climate disruption.
Despite this relatively high level of awareness of the negative impact of climate change, only 38% of SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa have implemented adaptation strategies to reduce their vulnerability to climate risks.
In detail, 59% of companies active in the agricultural sector have invested in measures to cope with climate change, compared with 48% of companies operating in the manufacturing industry and 23% of companies in the service sector. Agricultural companies are also five times more likely to implement multiple adaptation measures than those operating in the service sector.
More generally, companies that have implemented measures to adapt to climate disruption have focused primarily on infrastructure: 27% have invested in electricity generation systems, 23% in water-saving irrigation systems and 22% in alternative means of transport.
The report also reveals that companies in a strong financial position were more likely to adopt adaptation measures than their financially constrained counterparts. The latter also tended to implement low-cost, low-skill measures, such as using fewer chemicals and investing in sustainable/recyclable packaging, than their financially healthy counterparts, who tended to make heavier investments.
On the other hand, only 36% of companies surveyed stated that they had taken steps to mitigate the impact of their activities on the environment. Also, 90% of those companies that had reduced their carbon footprint said that mitigation measures had enabled them to access promising economic opportunities such as access to new markets (40%), preservation of existing markets (32%), improved product quality (31%) and reduced input costs (27%).
More than half of the respondents (55%) are microenterprises with fewer than four employees, and 31% are small businesses (5 to 19 employees). Some 83% of these companies operate in the service sector, 9% in manufacturing, and 8% in the primary sector (mining, agriculture, etc.).