Public-private dialogue: a must for enhancing Central Africa’s business climate

Douala, 3 December 2014 (ECA) – The real determining factors of investment in Central Africa include: governance, legal and judicial security, infrastructure development, availability and quality of labor, access to financing, and good relations between the public and the private sectors. This is the overall worldview of about sixty experts and economic stakeholders at who have just ended a two-day ad hoc meeting on improving the business climate in Central Africa, held in Douala-Cameroon at the behest of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

After very instructive discussions on the indicators used by international institutions to assess the business climate in countries across the world, the experts concluded that given its realities that contrast with those of countries elsewhere, Central Africa would need additional indicators that are more context-specific.

They however took due note of the difficulties encountered by countries of the sub-region to attract investments other than in the extractive industry. Such difficulties are connected with insufficient statistical capacities, administrative red tape and a weak level of sub-regional integration. Accordingly, the States of the sub-region should, inter alia, address not only the said difficulties, but also encourage the diaspora wishing to invest in the sub-region, take measures to re-orientate investments towards industry and modern services as well as rationalise and coordinate public structures responsible for promoting investments. 

Official ceremonies

Opening the workshop on behalf of Cameroon’s Minister for Commerce, Mr. Jackai Derrick Mosima, said that in spite of all efforts deployed by Central African States to improve their business climate, the reforms initiated have not yet yielded expected results. According to him, such a situation has led the Government of Cameroon to envision many actions within its Growth and Employment Strategy, notably a framework for improving the its investment environment  “through enhancement of monitoring of dialogue on the business climate with the private sector, pursuit of harmonisation of the legal framework with the OHADA law and implementation of the Investment Charter.

For his part, the Director of the Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa, of ECA, Mr Emile Ahohe, noted that the said meeting formed part of the sub-regional office’s contribution toward improving the business climate and promoting the private sector for better economic and social development of the sub-region. At the end of the meeting, he underscored the ECA’s determination to continue to work on the sub-region’s priorities.

Note on participating parties

Participants in the meeting included experts from the Ministries in charge of trade and representatives of consular chambers and the private sector of following countries: Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Chad.

Other organisations that took part in the meeting  were: representatives of the African Union Commission (AUC), the General Secretariat of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic and Monetary Commission of Central Africa (CEMAC ), the Steering Committee of the Rationalization of Regional Economic Communities in Central Africa (COPIL / CER-AC), the Regional Coordination of NEPAD in Central Africa (CR / NEPAD-AC), the African Development Bank (AfDB) , the African Intellectual Property Rights Organization (OAPI), the Regional Commission on Fisheries of the Gulf of Guinea (Regional Fisheries Committee for the Gulf of Guinea (COREP)), the Economic Commission on Cattle, Meat and Fish Resources (CEBEVIRHA), Organization Coordination of the Fight Against endemic Diseases in Central Africa (OCEAC), the Organization for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) of the International Commission of the Congo-Oubangui-Sangha Basin (CICOS), the Sub-regional Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics (ISSEA), the Multi sectoral Sub Regional Institute of Applied Technology, Planning and Evaluation of Projects (ISTA) and the Investment Promotion Agency (API) Cameroon.