C4C: Zooming in on private investments in Africa

Governments alone cannot create the employment perspectives needed for young people in Africa: the private sector plays a central role, too. Fostering more international and local investments that contribute to job creation is the trending topic at the heart of the current European development policy debate and new innovative mechanisms to boost private investments are being discussed. However, companies and entrepreneurs only enter a market or start businesses if they find an enabling and secure environment and supportive framework conditions. Furthermore, larger investments alone do not automatically lead to more local employment.

In light of these pressing challenges, the GIZ Representation Brussels and Expertise France held a Capacity4Change (C4C) event on 26 September 2017 featuring practical examples from Libya (Expertise France) and Uganda (GIZ). With both insights, the participants tried to answer the questions ‘How can private investments be attracted to developing countries, especially fragile contexts?’ and ‘How can one make sure that investments are sustainable, create jobs and are benefiting the local population?’

Insights from Libya and Uganda

Alexandre Chatillon-Mounier from Expertise France presented the programme ‘Support to Libya for Economic Integration, Diversification and Sustainable Employment (SLEIDSE)’, financed by the European Union and France. SLEIDE supports the development of local micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in Libya. The objective is to develop a diversified local business environment and create job opportunities. The project also aims at strengthening the capacity of the Libyan state in better addressing the needs of SMEs and Entrepreneurs. This includes improving access to finance for SMEs, developing efficient services to support their growth and offer mentoring activities to attract young Libyans on the route to entrepreneurship.

Meanwhile, GIZ implements the regional ‘Employment for Development (E4D)’ programme, which also receives cofinancing for individual project components by the EU, the Korean, British and Norwegian development agencies and two private companies, Shell and Quoniam. Whitin E4D, which is led by Sonja Palm, the partners cooperate with international and locally-based companies investing in Africa to promote employment along their value and supply chains. The initiative is active in all sectors with high employment potential such as infrastructure, transport, energy, agriculture and the service sector. In Brussels, Nathan Lenzin shared his experience with E4D in Uganda, where he helped to set up a large-scale professional driver training that meets the needs of the private sector and creates jobs at the same time. The result: infrastructure and transportation are now improved and foster economic growth.

Informing the European policy debate

During the subsequent round table, the speakers were joined by the European Commission DG DEVCO’s private sector expert Zissimos Vergos. The exchange brought implementation experiences and the current policy debate together and integrated questions of the audience. One important take-away: companies and entrepreneurs need an enabling, secure and supportive business environment. That’s where implementing agencies like GIZ and Expertise France come in. Moreover, investments need to be designed in an inclusive way and integrate local workers and suppliers in order to reach broad-based growth.