Nigeria: ECOWAS moves to maximise investment benefits

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - ECOWAS has called on member states to adopt its newly-developed regional investment climate monitoring mechanism and undertake relevant reform initiatives to improve the policy environment in order to optimise the benefits of a common investment market in the region.

“In the past several years, the ECOWAS region has witnessed increased inflows of global foreign direct investment facilitated by the market size and natural resource endowments of the region, which make possible broader investment frontiers and relatively higher return on investment,” an ECOWAS Commission statement obtained by PANA quoted ECOWAS Commissioner for Industry and Private Sector Promotion Kalilou Traore as saying.

Traore, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting on the ECOWAS Investment Climate Indicators Report, which opened in Lomé, Togo on Wednesday, however, noted that investment in the region still faced many challenges.

The challenges include unpredictable regulatory and policy environment, lack of quality production infrastructure, lack of access to or high cost of finance as well as difficult land administration structures and title registration processes, which affect the cost of doing business, influence investor perception and therefore the quantum and quality of investment inflow into the region.

The Commissioner affirmed that the result is that West Africa “is receiving less than its optimal share of global investment inflows than it would have, were all these factors to operate effectively and efficiently; and the environment more conducive”.

Consequently, he said that private sector operators have advocated for the measurement of 19 key indicators captured in the ECOWAS Investment Climate Monitoring Indicators Report 2012.

While the survey might not have thrown up anything strange or unknown in the region, the Commissioner said the documented facts are meant to draw the attention of policy makers to the implications of the issues raised for the business environment, while also providing relevant information on the areas requiring fundamental reforms across the region.

The findings, he said, also provide relevant information to assist investors in assessing their prospective locations and planning of their operations within the region.

According to him, the three-day stakeholders’ sensitization meeting is not only to present the report, but would also serve as a Public-Private Dialogue platform between government operatives and the private sector on how to collaborate to improve the indices, going forward.

The Commissioner therefore urged participants to focus on the issues highlighted in the report and come out with regional and national strategies to ensure that the indicators to be reformed are improved upon in the shortest possible time.

In his opening remarks, the ECOWAS Director of Private Sector, Mr. Alfred Braimah, set the tone for the deliberations by quoting the latest World Bank Doing Business Report as it relates to West Africa.

He also outlined the process used in implementing the project with the ECOWAS private sector actors as key drivers of the process, noting that apart from Cape Verde, most ECOWAS member states faced serious business challenges, especially in the critical areas of Small and Middle Enterprises (SMEs), which constitute the engine of economic growth.

The meeting is being attended by public and private sector investment operators from within and outside the region, including representatives of the Federation of West African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI), regional organisations such as the West African Business Association (WABA), Federation of Business Women and Entrepreneurs in West Africa (FEBWE), Federation of West African Manufacturers Associations (FEWAMA) as well as resource persons and ECOWAS officials.
-0- PANA SEG 3July2014

03 Julho 2014 16:38:39

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