29 Nov

Power to the people: Mobilizing Investment and Innovation for Sustainable Energy in Africa

High-level roundtable organized jointly by UN-OHRLLS and EnergyNet Ltd, 6 December 2016

he United Nations Office of the High Representative for Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States(UN-OHRLLS)together with EnergyNet will be convening a joint high-level roundtable on 6 December 2016, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The event will bring together participants from the two sustainable energy events which are running back to back in Dar es Salaam during a week dedicated to sustainable energy. Roundtable participants will discuss practical ways for African countries to achieve the three universal goals on sustainable energy. With a particular focus on building durable partnerships and financing initiatives, contributors will draw on their experience working in the field of sustainable energy, sharing success stories but also highlighting challenges and lessons learnt in mobilizing investment and innovation.

Prior to the roundtable, UN-OHRLLS will host the 2 day meeting Regional Meeting on Sustainable Energy for Least Developed Countries, 5-6th December , which will bring together key stakeholders in the African energy sector, highlighting ways to put energy finance in motion for least developed countries and deliver life changing benefits to vulnerable communities. Sessions will offer practical, workable solutions in areas including access to finance for energy initiatives, energy investment and business plans, benefitting from global energy initiatives, project preparation skills to attract investment and partnerships for sustainable energy.

The Africa Energy Forum: Off the Grid Summit, taking place 6-8th December  will focus on project opportunities for mini- and off-grid technology providers working in Africa’s energy space. The Summit will bring together ministries of energy, rural electrification agencies, philanthropic business foundations, banks, regulatory bodies, multilateral organisations and off-grid businesses to discuss topical issues concerning rolling-out off-grid projects across Africa.

Registered participants at both the UN-OHRLLS and EnergyNet’s Africa Energy Forum: Off the Grid Summit are invited to attend and the event which will also be open for members of the press. A brief Q&A session will take place at the end of the roundtable for members of the press.

When:  3:30 pm – 5:30 pm, 6 December 2016

Where:  Conference Hall of Bank of Tanzania, 2 Mirambo Street, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 11884.


  • Mr. Gyan Chandra Acharya, Under-Secretary-General, UN-OHRLLS
  • Hon. Sospeter M. Muhongo (MP), Minister for Energy and Minerals, The United Republic of Tanzania (tbc)
  • Mr. Joseph Yado Howe, Assistant Minister for Energy, Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Liberia (tbc)
  • Christopher Baker Brian, Co-Founder, BBOXX
  • Veronica Bolton-Smith, Regional Director, East and Southern Africa, EnergyNet Ltd.

Distributed by APO on behalf of EnergyNet Ltd..

28 Nov

North Africa – Territorial planning key to achieving successful industrial policies

During two days, experts from the North African ministries of industry, local authorities and other institutions in charge of public policy territorial planning focused their discussions on the stakes, obstacles and required reforms required in order for North African countries to benefit from successful industrial policy territorialization and inclusive development

Fifty experts converged on the importance of territorial planning for competitive, inclusive industrial policies in an ECA meeting on “Territorialization of Industrial Policy and Inclusive Growth” held on 24-25 November in Tunis.

“Now that traditional, centrally decided development policies are being challenged, territories have become critical spaces for the design and implementation of industrial and development policies”, said Mr Omar Abdourahman, interim Director of the ECA office in North Africa. “Territories are also the level at which decision makers can ensure industrial and development policies have a strong inclusive dimension”, he added.

To achieve successful industrial policy territorialization, countries should apply several conditions, including good governance, an inclusive process involving stakeholders, the redistribution of powers between the central State and the territories, or the transfer of skills and know-how towards the territories, said UNDP interim Resident Representative in Tunis El Kébir Mdarhri Alaoui.

North Africa has achieved significant progress on the human development level over the last few years, however, poverty, inequalities and unemployment, especially among educated youths, have remained significant. Industrialization can help countries achieve a more inclusive development when carried out as part of suitable strategies. Like neighbouring countries, Tunisia has undergone the effects of an industrial and economic development policy which has diversified its economic activity but has not succeeded in providing non coastal regions with industrial fabrics able to generate enough jobs and inclusive development, said Tunisian Minister of Industry Zied Ladhari.

“Without a more competitive industry which can generate more added value and skilled labour andimprove the equilibrium between regions, Tunisia will not be able to protect its economic take off, which may affect its democracy”, said Ladhari. The minister said his country will seize the opportunity of this workshop to learn about North African experiences and best practices in the field of industrial policy territorialization and inclusive development. The minister expressed the wish to examine opportunities for a concerted regional action to develop industries in border regions; “Such an initiative would be very important given its potential impact on social peace and even security in our countries”, he added.

During two days, experts from the North African ministries of industry, local authorities and other institutions in charge of public policy territorial planning focused their discussions on the stakes, obstacles and required reforms required in order for North African countries to benefit from successful industrial policy territorialization and inclusive development. An ECA study including their conclusions and recommendations will be put at the disposal of countries at a later date.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

23 Nov

New Online Ecosystem “Afrinection” Connects African Entrepreneurs, Job Seekers & Professionals with Employers, Investors & Partners

Afrinection is the go-to resource for African entrepreneurs, job seekers, and professionals to connect with prospective investors, employers, and other African professionals across the globe. The new online ecosystem also provides visibility for African-owned businesses to reach a global consumer base

MCLEAN, United States of America, November 23, 2016/APO/ —

The spotlight and stage for Africa’s skilled, dynamic and multi-faceted talent force is now bigger and brighter than ever thanks to the launch of Afrinection: the world’s first ecosystem that connects entrepreneurs, job seekers and professionals of African origin, with prospective employers, investors and partners across the globe.

“The vision of Afrinection is to create a scalable, effective and lasting platform for establishing networking, investment opportunity and talent identification,” commented Founder Kifle. “This vision is in response to what we view as a massive gap in terms of a truly global platform that enables networking among African professionals, entrepreneurs and job seekers both in Africa and abroad. Afrinection serves as a unique means to bridge this gap.”

In addition to serving the above-noted groups through an organized forum that incorporates several UX best practices — everything from intuitive navigational structure and mobile-friendly design, to suitable font sizes and first-rate graphic design — Afrinection also functions as a go-to resource that:

  • Generates worldwide branding visibility for African-owned businesses and ventures — from solopreneurs and small firms, to mid-market organizations and large enterprises.
  • Enables both B2B and B2C advertisers to cost-effectively micro-target the African demographic.
  • Publishes timely thought leadership content on various employment, entrepreneurial and business perspectives, with titles such as “An Introduction to Partnership Marketing” and “Living & Working Abroad.”
  • Enables companies seeking to hire African talent to search for and directly engage with registered job seekers.
  • Facilitates investment opportunity identification by enabling investors to contact registered entrepreneurs with industry-specific ventures that are relevant to investment portfolio targets.

Added Kifle: “For many years, professionals of African origin, along with businesses and investors that target the African demographic, have been unable to effectively connect because they were forced to use a disparate mix of platforms, websites and tools. Afrinection is a bold statement and an inspiring call to action this problem has been permanently solved, and a celebration of African innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Entrepreneurs, job seekers, professionals, entrepreneurs and investors can access Afrinection at no cost. Advertisers can purchase advertising packages starting at under $10 per month, with no long-term commitment required. More information on Afrinection is available on the website at https://Afrinection.com.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Afrinection.


22 Nov

Africa’s shifting private equity landscape

To unlock Africa’s potential, funds need to understand the changing dynamics of the continent’s private equity markets. The entry of new kinds of investors is transforming the market. Opportunities to invest in different kinds of target companies are opening. Successful funds are deploying different investment strategies. New intermediaries are opening offices.

While the trends present opportunities, significant challenges remain.

The changing investor profile

A new breed of investors in Africa-focused funds is changing the private equity landscape in fundamental ways. As private equity matures in Africa, the role of development finance institutions is diminishing, while more traditional limited partners, such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, and endowments, are accounting for a greater share of private equity capital.

These new investors bring different expectations. The primary mission of development finance institutions such as IFC is to make an impact on an economy and to help develop private capital markets. Africa’s new institutional investors, by contrast, seek high returns – often much higher returns than they can expect in other markets. A recent survey by AVCA found that 52% of limited partners expect that private equity returns in Africa will be higher than in other emerging markets. Indeed, nearly half report that the performance of their African investments already has matched or exceeded their expectations.

New investment targets

Historically, private equity funds have focused on a very specific kind of investment in Africa. They have targeted big, profitable companies that dominate their local markets or are regional leaders. Private equity funds also want companies with proven track records of sound, enlightened management. The supply of such mature targets, however, is well short of demand in Africa. As the competition for these assets intensifies, achieving high returns grows more challenging.

Investors that broaden their horizons will find abundant investment targets. Great opportunities in Africa are with smaller companies that are growing fast – and have the potential to grow much further with infusions of outside capital and management help. For example, Africa has a number of what BCG calls local dynamos, which are rapidly growing companies that are bidding to become national leaders.

The continent also features many established family-owned companies that are led by professional, second-generation managers, many of whom have been educated in the US and Europe. The private equity fund managers we have interviewed say that the new generation of family business leaders is more open than their elders to accepting outside capital and partners to modernise their operations and expand beyond their borders. A recent survey by PwC found that 24% of family businesses in Kenya, for example, prefer to raise capital from private equity, and that 37% plan to sell or float their companies, compared with a global average of 20%. There are also a significant number of family-owned businesses across Africa run by founders who wish to sell their companies, often because they are apprehensive about transferring their businesses to heirs they do not regard as having the skills or business aptitude to succeed.

Yet another rich source of opportunities consists of the holdings of established African companies seeking to shed assets that they no longer regard as core. Many of these opportunities lie in family businesses that used their cash over the years to diversify into businesses that have grown more competitive or that aspire to put their capital to better use in other sectors.

Different investment strategies

An additional distinct characteristic of Africa’s private equity market is that private equity funds prefer to acquire minority positions in a broad portfolio of holdings. When AVCA surveyed investors in 108 African deals, 80% of the respondents said that they invested via minority positions – compared with only 20% in developed economies. Given the high degree of volatility and the complex business environments in many African economies, fund managers maintain that minority stakes help manage risk. General partners who prefer minority stakes say that they feel more comfortable in Africa when they find the right kind of partner – one who knows the field and can manage the business day to day. They also say that it can be tough to find business owners who are willing to cede control unless they are under duress and that the scarcity of experienced executives in Africa makes it difficult to replace incumbent managers.

Some leading private equity funds are taking a different approach, however, and investing in more majority stakes. By exercising control, these managers say, they can better manage risk and create value because they can move more decisively. Controlling stakes also open more options for exiting because funds do not have to align with a majority investor. We found that the majority holdings of several significant private equity funds with both kinds of investments outperformed their minority holdings.

Funds can also explore evergreen investment structures. Currently, most funds are obligated to liquidate holdings and return capital to investors over a certain time frame. Evergreen funds, which have no fixed time frame, offer the flexibility to hold on to assets until it is the best time to sell and to roll the proceeds of divestitures into new investments.

As will be explained below, however, adopting a more active approach to creating value has several important implications. It often means that funds must hold their investments for longer periods of time and invest more resources in building an on-the-ground presence to manage companies in the portfolio. It also means that returns must be higher to justify the greater cost.

Africa’s costly and complex investment ecosystem

The investment ecosystem in Africa is not as well developed as that in the US and in Europe. Access to information is limited, and on-the-ground expertise is in short supply. Investors must navigate a wide variety of business cultures and customs and do business in many languages. This is why transactions in Africa often take 18 to 24 months to complete, far longer than in developed economies.

As a result of this incomplete ecosystem, operating successfully in Africa is costly and requires substantial investment to build local capabilities. Africa-focused private equity funds employ more staff than similarly sized funds elsewhere. The median employment level of international private equity funds is US$112m in assets under management for each staff member. For Africa-focused funds, the median is $45m.

Most global investment banks still cover Africa from offices outside the continent. Only a few have operations in several African nations. Given investors’ scarce local presence, the number of intermediaries and sources of information is growing – leading consulting companies have recently started to open offices across Africa, for example. The number of African financial advisors and both international and African legal advisors with private equity experience is growing as well.

Still, the demand for such expertise outstrips the supply. For the time being, private equity funds must spend more time and money in Africa originating deals and performing due diligence on their own.

This article was originally published on bcg.perspectives by the Boston Consulting Group.

21 Nov

SGI Dubai 2017 will cater to the Printing Industry Needs in Africa

Printing revenues in the MENA region are forecast to grow by 7.2% per annum reaching US$26 billion by 2018

17 Nov

Facebook outlines Plans to grow its African Ecosystem at AfricaCom 2016

Facebook (www.Facebook.com) had a strong presence at AfricaCom 2016 in Cape Town, in line with its commitment to fostering a strong relationship with its connectivity partners and application developers across Africa.

In addition to hosting its first-ever African FbStart workshop for developers, Facebook also shared how it is empowering local retailers and entrepreneurs with Internet.org’s Express Wifi programme.

Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org at Facebook, said: “Our mission is to give people the power to share and to make the world more open and connected. Only half of the planet is on the internet – our aim with Internet.org is to connect the other half through initiatives such as Free Basics, solar-powered airplanes, satellites, and our exciting new programme, Express Wifi. According to the ITU, internet Penetration in Africa is now at 28%, but there is so much more do be done.”

Express Wifi empowering local entrepreneurs

Express Wifi by Facebook empowers local entrepreneurs to provide quality internet access to their communities and make a steady income. Working with local internet service providers or mobile operators, they’re able to use software provided by Facebook to connect their communities.

The programme is currently live at 150 locations in five countries across two continents.

In Africa, Facebook already has partners in Tanzania, Nigeria, and South Africa, with more deployments planned soon, including Ghana.

“This is a sustainable approach to bringing connectivity to underserved communities in countries across Africa – it is a business model that will grow itself because it empowers entrepreneurs to serve their communities,” says Daniels.

Express Wifi empowering local entrepreneurs

Express Wifi by Facebook empowers local entrepreneurs to provide quality internet access to their communities and make a steady income. Working with local internet service providers or mobile operators, they’re able to use software provided by Facebook to connect their communities.

The programme is currently live at 150 locations in five countries across two continents.

In Africa, Facebook already has partners in Tanzania, Nigeria, and South Africa, with more deployments planned soon, including Ghana.

“This is a sustainable approach to bringing connectivity to underserved communities in countries across Africa – it is a business model that will grow itself because it empowers entrepreneurs to serve their communities,” says Daniels.

This programme has also improved the skills of local entrepreneurs who work with Facebook and its ISP partners to build, install and maintain local wifi networks.

“We’re encouraged by the progress we’ve made – but also inspired by what we’ve seen in the community,” says Daniels. “It’s exciting to see local economies transformed by connectivity as people use the internet to enhance existing businesses or create new ones.”

First FbStart Meetup in Africa

More than 150 developers and entrepreneurs gathered for Facebook’s first FbStart event in Africa on 15 November. During this half-day event, attendees met the Facebook team, learned about Facebook platform tools for developers, and saw how Facebook works with mobile app start-ups through the FbStart programme.

“It would not be possible for us to accomplish our mission of making the world more open and connected without the help of developers and other partners in our community,” says Emeka Afigbo, Strategic Products Partnerships Manager, Facebook. “We were delighted by the excellent turnout for the workshop and excited by the possibilities of the great ideas we saw from the delegates at the FbStart event.”

Population Density Map data

Also this week, Facebook announced that it is now releasing its Population Density Map data(http://APO.af/HChwir) to the public.

Government policymakers, academics and local organisations will all benefit from access to this rich dataset, with potential applications such as socio-economic research, infrastructure planning, and risk assessment for natural disasters.

To start, Facebook has shared data sets for Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, Haiti, and Sri Lanka, and they can be found on the website of CIESIN at Columbia University. More countries will be added over the coming months.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Facebook.

16 Nov

Angola is diversifying from oil

Angola has experienced rapid growth in the last decade, mostly propelled by the exploitation of its vast natural resources. Today, the country ranks as the third largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa (see Figure 1). Its history is characterised by struggle and battle. After its independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola endured a 27-year civil war, during which two major opposition parties, MPLA and Unita, fought for supremacy. In 2002, the two parties finally agreed on a cease-fire and started to focus on rebuilding the country. The rebirth of Angola started in 2002.

Oil and diamonds

From 2002 until recently, Angola relied on its natural resources as its main source of revenue. Oil makes up most of the country’s earnings. Angola is Africa’s second-largest oil producer, with much of its proven reserves concentrated in Cabinda Province, a region plagued by a separatist conflict. Oil production has more than doubled from about 800,000 barrels a day in 2001 to about 1.8 million barrels a day in 2015. This resource alone accounted for around 95% of foreign exchange revenues in 2014. Oil exports brought in US$60.2bn in revenues to the country in 2014. In 2015, foreign currency inflow generated by oil exports was $33.4bn, a 44.5% decline relative to the same period the previous year, a result of the drop in the oil price.

Diamonds account for a sizeable amount of revenue, although much smaller than that generated from oil. Angola is Africa’s third-largest diamond producer by quantity and value, surpassed only by Botswana, the world’s largest producer, with about 38 million carats, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 30 million carats. The country mined 10 million carats of diamond in 2014, generating a revenue of $1.6bn. Angola’s production volume oscillated between 9.7 and 8.3 million carats per year since 2006. The new mining code introduced in 2011 attracted foreign investment and boosted the exploration of the precious stone and other minerals.

The extensive natural resources gave Angolans the possibility of rapid prosperity, but also the curse of trusting finite commodities for a continuous stream of revenue.

Similarly to Nigeria, investments in Angola’s oil industry grew constantly over the past decade, dwarfing other sectors of the economy. In the colonial era, Angola was a major exporter of coffee, sisal, sugar cane, banana and cotton, and self-sufficient in all food crops except wheat. The civil war disrupted all agriculturalproduction and displaced millions of people. The discovery of large oil reserves shifted the focus of the economy from agriculture to oil exploration. The country ceased to invest in technology and the mechanisation of its agricultural sector. Agricultural productivity decreased. The seemingly endless supply of oil money and the dismantled agricultural sector made it easier to import food, rather than invest in domestic production. From being a net agricultural exporter in the 1970s, Angola now imports 90% of its food – at a cost of $5bn a year. Of this, $300m worth of agricultural products were imported from the United States in 2014.

The sharp decline in commodity prices in recent years has put severe strains on Angola’s economy. From an average GDP growth of 4.5% between 2010 and 2015, the country’s economy is expected to grow by only 2.5% in 2016 and 2.7% in 2017. The economy has recently undergone some structural changes to try to move away from its dependency on oil revenue. Time will tell whether it will be successful.

A lot to be fixed

Angola’s ranking as the third-largest GDP in sub-Saharan Africa is testimony to its natural resource wealth. However, this prominent position masks the socio-economic imbalances the country has been experiencing for decades. The drop in the oil price resulted in a shortage of revenue that could be balanced only by a cut in public spending. Government spending was cut to $24bn from $30bn projected in the original 2016 budget, as revenues were also slashed to $18bn from $24.4bn. The unfolding of this cut is palpable. Rubbish collection in Luanda has stopped, which helped spread an outbreak of yellow fever from the capital’s vast slums to the rest of the country.

The Angolan regime is considered a democracy. However, its current president has been holding the office for the past 37 years. José Eduardo dos Santos was first elected in 1979 and has since then managed to win the presidency at every election. But recently, amid the country’s economic turmoil, he announced he would not run for re-election in 2018. During his tenure as president, Dos Santos’ family has been raised to glory. His son is very likely to run for president when Dos Santos steps down and his daughter, Isabel, has managed to become Africa’s richest woman, with assets totalling $3.2bn. Dos Santos also appointed Isabel to head the Angolan state oil company, Sonangol.

Being the home of the wealthiest woman in a continent is an enormous contrast compared to Angola’s social and economic indicators. Angola ranks first in child mortality for children under five, with 157 deaths per 1,000 live births; 12% of children are born with low weight; 2.2% of adults live with HIV; adult illiteracy is still high, and gender inequality is rampant in every aspect of society.

Angola ranks 163 out of 167 in the Corruption Perception Index; it has one of the most unfriendly business environments, scoring 182 out of 189 in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking; and is badly recognised in the innovation arena, coming in at 120 of 141 in the Global Innovation Index. Innovation is essential in tailoring policies that promote long-term output growth, improve productivity, and create jobs.

Angola’s business environment remains one of the most difficult in the world. Investors must factor in pervasive corruption, an underdeveloped financial system, poor infrastructure, abundant but unskilled labour and extremely high on-the-ground costs. Surface transportation inside the country is slow and expensive, while bureaucracy and port inefficiencies complicate trade and raise costs. There is a lot to be fixed in this country of 25 million people, and some measures are already being taken in this direction. […]

You can read the full story here: How we made it in Africa

14 Nov

Trade Envoy’s visit to boost UK-Mozambique commercial links

MAPUTO, Mozambique, November 11, 2016/APO/ —

Mr Benyon’s agenda focused on seeking new opportunities for British businesses

Richard Benyon paid a three-day visit to Mozambique in September with an agenda centred on boosting trade relations between the UK and Mozambique. The visit was to create space for UK businesses to strengthen their knowledge of the growing commercial opportunities in the Southern Africa country.

During the visit, Mr Benyon met the Mozambican Prime Minister Agostinho do Rosárion and discussed bilateral links and potential for future better interactions, with the UK lending its expertise in a number of sectors.

The meetings with representatives of the import and export sectors, local oil and gas operators and regulators focused on existing and new business opportunities for the growing number of UK companies operating in Mozambique’s market.

There was also a moment for exchange of views on Mozambique’s business environment during a meeting with representatives of the companies members of the British Businesses Network in country. He also made field visits to some of UK investment projects in Mozambique, with particular focus on Aggreko, in Maputo province, which uses natural gas to generate electricity.

The main objective of these engagements was to build the basis for greater commercial links between the UK and Mozambique, especially in booming sectors of the economy such as natural resources, supply chain, and energy.


11 Nov

Huge Oil Discovery in Nigeria

IRVING, Texas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM) today announced a significant discovery with a potential recoverable resource of between 500 million and 1 billion barrels of oil on the Owowo field offshore Nigeria.

The Owowo-3 well, which was spud on Sept. 23, encountered about 460 feet (140 meters) of oil-bearing sandstone reservoir. Owowo-3 extends the resource discovered by the Owowo-2 well, which encountered about 515 feet (157 meters) of oil-bearing sandstone reservoir.

“We are encouraged by the results and will work with our partners and the government on future development plans,” said Stephen M. Greenlee, president of ExxonMobil Exploration Company.

Owowo-3 was safely drilled to 10,410 feet (3,173 meters) in 1,890 feet (576 meters) of water. The Owowo field spans portions of the contract areas of Oil Prospecting License 223 (OPL 223) and Oil Mining License 139 (OML 139). The well was drilled by ExxonMobil affiliate Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria (Deepwater Ventures) Limited and proved additional resource in deeper reservoirs.

ExxonMobil holds 27 percent interest and is the operator for OPL 223 and OML 139. Joint venture partners include Chevron Nigeria Deepwater G Limited (27 percent interest), Total E&P Nigeria Limited (18 percent interest), Nexen Petroleum Deepwater Nigeria Limited (18 percent interest), and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company Limited (10 percent interest).

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT: Statements of future events or conditions in this release are forward-looking statements. Actual future results, including project plans and schedules and resource recoveries could differ materially due to changes in market conditions affecting the oil and gas industry or long-term oil and gas price levels; political or regulatory developments; reservoir performance; the outcome of future exploration and development efforts; technical or operating factors; the outcome of future commercial negotiations; and other factors discussed here and in under the caption “Factors Affecting Future Results” on the Investors page of ExxonMobil’s website at www.exxonmobil.com. References to resources and barrels of oil include quantities not yet classified as proved reserves under SEC definitions but that we believe will likely be produced and moved into the proved reserve category in the future.

Distributed by ExxonMobil

09 Nov

Cameroon: stage set for inclusive and sustainable cities

The US$500 thousand project, which covers Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Morocco, Uganda and Zambia, has been commissioned within the 9th tranche of the UN’s Development Account

YAOUNDE, Cameroon, November 9, 2016/APO/ —

Some 30 senior officials from several Government Ministries in Cameroon are concerting to roll out an ECA-facilitated project to strengthen the capacities of African countries to transform their burgeoning cities into poles of inclusive and sustainable development. The US$500 thousand project, which covers Cameroon, Cabo Verde, Morocco, Uganda and Zambia, has been commissioned within the 9th tranche of the UN’s Development Account. It focuses on bringing the cross-sectoral needs of institutions in charge of national development planning, urban development, housing, industry, finance, agriculture, infrastructure, and statistics to the table in order to design and implement policies/strategies for cities that would engender growth, economic diversification, competitiveness, industrialisation, agriculture development, innovation, trade, employment and overall human development.

In launching the Cameroon-lap of the initiative today, the country’s Minister of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development – H.E. Mr Louis Paul Motaze, who was flanked by Minister Jean Claude Mbwentchou of   Housing and Urban Development, thanked the ECA for choosing Cameroon as one of the pioneers of the project and reechoed the high stakes of integrating urbanisation in development planning.

“It is against this backdrop that in its long term development vision, Cameroon is working to create conditions for an integrated economic area in which it intends not only to master the development of cities to make them centres of production and consumption levels that are necessary for the growth of the industrial sector, but also to promote the emergence of peripheral settlements, and the development of medium or secondary towns capable of structuring economic activities in the urban space and helping in the development of surrounding rural areas,” the Minister said.

Meanwhile the Director of the Subregional Office for Central Africa of ECA, Mr Antonio Pedro, used the occasion to draw parallels between urbanisation and industrialisation, which is a key aspect for Africa’s structural transformation currently being emphasised by the Commission.

“Leveraging urbanisation for accelerated industrialisation is thus an important area for any narrative on urbanisation in Africa,” he said, while adding that “such a focus on industrialisation is not merely in relation to boosting national economic performance but would enable cities to be productive and create decent jobs while generating revenues to provide inclusive access to services, infrastructure and overall prosperity.”

Following the launch of the project, resource persons from ECA’s Social Development Policy Division are working with Cameroon’s National Implementation Team (NIT) charged with formulating a National Implementation Plan of the project for the period 2017 and 2018. They will set the steps, approach and means necessary to integrate urbanisation in the country’s development strategy. This cross-sectoral team will comprise experts in national development planning; finance and economic development; trade, infrastructure and industry; agriculture; housing and urban planning; and urban data and statistics, among others.

Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa ( UNECA ).