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Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF) Press Release
By
May 22, 2009, 17:00
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ICF
PRESS RELEASE

African countries making progress on investment climates

~ ICF CEO speaking in the UK House of Commons and at Londons leading business school ~

London, United Kingdom 21 May 2009 The CEO of Investment Climate Facility for Africa (ICF), Mr Omari Issa, shared progress of improvements being delivered by a number of African governments to their respective investment climates at the House of Commons in London this week.

Speaking to a group of UK senior parliamentarians and business leaders, Mr Issa underlined the importance of removing existing barriers to doing business as the best means of unlocking the continents very real investment potential. By addressing the underlying issues that currently hamper enterprise and entrepreneurship namely, practical struggles with bureaucracy, regulation, red tape and infrastructure African governments have a key role to play in delivering greater domestic and foreign investment, with important long-term benefits for economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation.

Mr Issa told attendees at the House of Commons event, hosted by the UK Associate Parliamentary Group on Business, Finance and Accountancy, that "The solutions to Africas investment problems will be delivered on the ground by African governments. By streamlining processes, removing red tape, increasing transparency, improving infrastructure and reducing start-up costs, governments have a key role to play in enabling their countries to find their own way to economic growth and prosperity."

ICF is working in partnership with several African governments and a number of regional organisations to deliver tangible and self-sustaining improvements in a number of priority areas that are central to creating a healthy business environment. These include property rights and contract enforcement, business registration and licensing, taxation and customs administration and infrastructure facilitation.

For example, eighteen months into a three year project to improve commercial justice systems with the Rwandan Government, four new commercial courts are operational and a backlog of 3,000 pending cases has fallen by 70%.

Similarly, a partnership with the Government and the private sector in Senegal to develop a paperless electronic customs administration has resulted in a reduction in the issuing of customs pre-clearance declarations from two days to a maximum of seven hours. In Lesotho, businesses are now able to pay their VAT returns using high street banks as part of a project with the Government.

ICF believes such improvements will support and stimulate Africas SME sector, with important consequences for the continents longer-term economic growth. While in high-income countries, the SME sector has been estimated to contribute more than 50 per cent to gross GDP, in most African countries this contribution has been estimated at less than 10 per cent. Mr Issa urged the public and private sectors to work in partnership to develop local skills, capabilities and infrastructure so that entrepreneurship can flourish and succeed and the SME sector can fulfil its very real potential.

In a keynote speech at the London Business Schools eighth annual Africa Day conference, Mr Issa addressed business and academic leaders on the theme Investment Climate in Africa: Navigating the Global Downturn and argued that it is now more important than ever that African governments get the fundamentals in place to deliver practical, self sustaining change.

Mr Issa said: "We are not responding to any financial crisis here, we are responding to long term business issues and now is the time for African governments and the private sector to work together to address the fundamentals. Africa is a continent rich with investment potential and entrepreneurship if we succeed in getting the investment climate right, I am confident the implications for the continents wider economic and social progress will be enormous and long-lasting."

For more information on ICF visit www.icfafrica.org

Notes to editors:

1. The Investment Climate Facility for Africa is a unique public-private partnership between government and business that aims to help Africa create a more attractive business environment and realize its potential as a global player and trading partner. ICF works to remove real and perceived obstacles to domestic and foreign investment by assisting Africans to prepare and promote the continent as an investment destination. ICF success is measured against higher levels of investment, faster economic growth, enhanced business opportunities and sustained returns for investment. ICF has the support of key Africa institutions, international development partners and private sector companies

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Emilienne Macauley
Ph: +255 222 129 211
email : emacauley@icfafrica.org

Leila Bateman
Ph: +44 207 067 0419
e-mail: lbateman@webershandwick.com


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