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Implementing investment climate reforms across Africa

February 02, 2016

Implementing investment climate reforms across Africa

In 2016 we enter our ninth year of helping to foster a positive business environment across the African continent. At ICF we believe that the private sector plays a key role in boosting economic growth, through the production of goods and services, and distributing wealth through wage earning jobs – both of which are crucial in helping countries to develop and fight poverty.

For nearly a decade ICF has been working with African governments and the private sector to identify and remove obstacles in the business environment. This work has involved modernizing government systems, streamlining processes and procedures, and building the capacity of both the public and private sectors to enable them to function in modernized environments. During this time, ICF has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in conducting business climate reforms in different parts of Africa. From west to east, Francophone to Lusophone, fragile state to emerging economies – ICF has worked with them all.

As we embark into 2016, we continue our work in business climate reforms, injecting the knowledge we have gained across the years into the projects were are currently implementing across the continent. Our work this year encompasses projects in the following six areas:

Business registration and licensing

Support in the business registration and licensing sector aims to make it easier for businesses to register their enterprises and obtain operating licenses quickly and cost effectively. We currently have business registration and licensing projects taking place in Senegal and Tanzania. The Senegal Construction Permits project aims to speed up the process of issuing construction permits in the region of Dakar, allowing people and businesses to get permits in 28 days instead of the current 90 days. The Tanzania Investment Window Project aims to make investment services, such as business registration and obtaining of various licenses, available online.

Taxation and customs

ICF support in the taxation area aims to make it easier for businesses to meet their tax obligations. We are currently working on the second phase of the Senegal Modernization of Tax Administration Project to streamline and automate tax administrative processes to help reduce time and costs associated with tax declarations. Under customs, we help governments to modernize their systems so that businesses can clear their goods quickly at border entries. Current customs projects are on-going in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. While Burkina Faso and Ethiopia are both landlocked countries, Tanzania’s coastline is home to the busy port of Dar es Salaam. The creation of efficient customs clearance procedures will help to encourage cross border trade and improve competitiveness in all countries.

Property rights and contract enforcement

Our work in the property rights and contract enforcement sector helps businesses to secure the rights to their assets and to resolve commercial disputes in a quick and transparent manner. Projects taking place in this area include those in Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Togo and the OHADA region. In Ivory Coast, Mali and Nigeria, we are helping to set up alternative dispute resolution mechanisms like arbitration and mediation courts. In Rwanda and Togo we are working to modernize their judiciaries by introducing case management systems and real time court reporting. In the OHADA region we are helping to harmonize business laws across the 17 OHADA member countries.

Financial markets

Support in the financial markets sector is aimed at improving the scope, services and access to these markets. Current projects are in Ethiopia and Seychelles. The Ethiopia Commodities Exchange Project is modernizing the Exchange by introducing electronic spot trading of commodities. The Seychelles Financial and Regulatory Capacity Support project aims to deepen the financial services sector by strengthening the oversight and regulatory regime.

Infrastructure facilitation

ICF support in the infrastructure facilitation area focuses on helping governments to create an enabling environment and regulatory framework for the private sector to participate in providing public infrastructure. Current projects in this area include work in Cape Verde, Seychelles and Sierra Leone. Project work in both Cape Verde and Seychelles is helping to set up public-private partnership frameworks to allow private sector participation in the provision of public services. The Sierra Leone Airport Transfer Project is working to provide safe and reliable transport between the capital city of Freetown and the international airport in Lungi, as a way to foster greater investments in the country.

Capacity building

Building the capacity of both the private and public sectors is crucial in fostering economic growth in Africa. The South Africa Municipal Capacity Building Project is helping to build the capacities of five municipal councils to enable them to improve the provision of basic services so that businesses are attracted to move into those areas and invest. The COMESA Local Sourcing Project is building sustainable sourcing partnerships between small businesses and large corporate companies by training local suppliers in six countries in global food standards.

This year we continue our work of helping to make it easier for both governments and the private sector to play their part in catalysing economic growth across the continent. Most importantly, this brings us to almost a decade of our history in implementing business climate reforms in Africa that are contributing towards an improved invesment climate in the continent.

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